by Michele Sparks
In today's world we often hear people err on one side or the other of things advocating for more love and grace or more adherence to standards, principles and truth. I implore you to consider however whether it really has to be one or the other. What would Jesus Himself say about the issue of grace versus truth?
In John 4:1-42 Jesus meets a woman at the well just focused on drawing her water for the day's events. Instead of embarrassing her or shouting her down with judgments about her escapades with the 5 men (aka husbands) she has had he becomes part of her story in a grace-filled way. However, the story does not end with tolerance and approval of unholy behavior. Jesus recognizes her issues but nonetheless interacts with her. Grace becomes real in action. The sinless Spirit led existence of Christ accepts water held by the Samaritan woman. Heaven touches the real , the ordinary. This is true discipleship in action. Grace does not stop there . Jesus adds truth . He tells the Samaritan woman those who worship God must do so in Spirit and truth. The reality of the Gospel always requires something form us- a sort of re-evaluation of our position. Are we lined up with the Gospel or are there any areas in which we need to change or repent and go in a different direction?
When grace and truth are married something happens. It is something very beautiful indeed. This incident went beyond the basic interchange between Jesus and the Samaritan lady- just two people standing by a well fetching water. I verse 28 we see a response that only grace and truth could have produced. "And the Samaritan woman left her water jar there and went to the town. " Next we here how her encounter with grace demanded a response. She stated to the townspeople, "come see a woman who told me everything I have ever done. This man must be the Messiah." We see the ultimate result: "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed because of that woman's testimony. So many of them encouraged Jesus to stay with them and he stayed two days. And because of Jesus' words many more became believers."
Grace and truth always cause a stir, a chain reaction of sorts. They are two ingredients like in a recipe that are inseparable. Nowhere are they better mirrored than at the cross- the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The grace of Jesus is apparent from having compassion for the Romans soldier who disciple Peter attacked with a sword. Even while the soldier reaches to arrest Jesus our Savior heals the soldier's ear. Grace continues when Jesus looks out at the screaming people voting for Barabus, a known thief, to be set free in exchange for Jesus' death. Jesus dies for those same ones. Grace again is composed and confidently assured in the Holy Spirit when facing Pontious Pilate by not defending and causing an uproar but instead letting his actions of the soon coming resurrection speak for themselves. Grace continues on the cross through excruciating pain "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Grace continues accepting repentance from a sinner on a cross nearby even in his dying breath.
Jesu' death and resurrection, however, are not just about grace but also about truth. We see in action the truth lived out that "there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend." (John 15:13) We see our High Priest who is familiar with every temptation and struggles in life overcome by going the path we should have gone (see Hebrews 14).
So next time you are tempted to think is it more grace or more truth remember the above. Grace and truth are an inseparable mix of the very heart of God. Let us all pray that we be in Christ filled with grace but that we also have an initiate relationship with the Holy Spirt, God's presence as the Spirit of truth.