Yesterday I did not preach. That is hard for me. I am, by nature, a preacher—that is my main vocation and so not preaching is like asking the starting quarterback to not play. It’s just hard. But, I was blessed in it because we had Mark Bradley from Golden Gate Seminary up to preach. He preached about “Grace and Truth,” a sermon which jumped off from John 1:14.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The passage says Jesus was full of grace and truth and Mark made the case that we, as Christ-followers, ought likewise to be full of grace and truth. He went on to describe that some of us are more “grace” oriented and others are more “truth” oriented. As he taught this, I discovered that I can go both ways; but it depends on my mood. What I don’t do very often is strike the perfect balance of grace and truth. So this morning I’m thinking about the kind of scenarios where I might do better.
Scenario 1—A woman walks into a room where I am, perhaps at church or someone’s home and I notice immediately that her dress is hideous. The cut is wrong, the colors are giving me headaches and her shoes do not match. How do I respond?
- Grace: “That dress is curious. Where did you get it?”
- Truth: “Your dress makes me vomit. One of us must leave.”
- Both: “Your dress is interesting and commands my attention, but I don’t know if it works for me.”
Scenario 2—A man from my church posts on Facebook that my sermon on a particular Sunday was boring and he did not get anything out of it. How do I respond to their internet insult?
- Grace: Comment, “Thank you for the constructive criticism. I will attempt to do better next time. Please pray for me.”
- Truth: Comment, “I may preach better next time, but you’ll always be ugly and stupid.”
- Both: Don’t reply at all.
Scenario 3—A pastor comes to me seeking my advice on his/her church. After a long drawn-out conversation in which he gives me the blow by blow of the problems I decide that the real problem is him.
- Grace: Say, “Maybe the denomination can help you put the pieces together and figure out where to go from here and how to put things back together.”
- Truth: Ask, “Have you ever thought about a career selling insurance?”
- Both: Say, “Perhaps you might want to ask the Lord to reveal how this might all be your fault.”
The thing I like most about Mark’s emphasis on “grace and truth” is that it affirms what I’ve always believed; I cannot control what other people do or say, I can only control how I respond. Being a Christ-follower demands that I respond in ways that are honoring to him, regardless of how I might feel about it. At the same time, I must respect people and not inflict undue harm.