American musician John Mellencamp once said, “I know there’s a balance in life. I see it every time I swing by it.” There is perhaps no more profound realization in the entire Christian experience than grasping the necessary balance and tension between GRACE and TRUTH.
Most individuals, churches, denominations, pastors, teachers, and movements tend to choose one over the other — or at least emphasize one at the expense of the other. My own journey has been one of sliding back and forth from one extreme to the other. I think I’m learning how to keep both held in an appropriate tension these days….but it’s always a fragile balance with many necessary “reality checks.”
I went through a TRUTH season where I was banging people over the head with my Bible trying to get them to understand the truth — but I was missing grace in the process.
Before that I had gone through a GRACE season where it was all about love, acceptance, and singing cumbaya — but I lacked a conviction for the truth about sin, judgment, the urgency of reaching lost people, living according to God’s standard as revealed in scripture, etc.
One thing that has helped me keep this balance is to broaden the theological and church circles I run in and learn from. I read Brian McLaren and Francis Chan; I listen to sermons by John Piper and Greg Boyd; I have pastoral mentors who are both evangelical and more moderate mainline; I’ve served in a Methodist church and evangelical churches; I’m inspired by the lives of Shane Claiborne and Chuck Colson, Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. And so on.
Andy Stanley sums it up extremely well…