“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:17-18).
We live in rigid and graceless times. “Cancel culture” is the new fundamentalism, and fire and brimstone is preached from many media outlets. Don’t mess up. Don’t have a past. Don’t say the wrong thing. Don’t get aligned with the wrong team. Don’t get associated with the wrong narrative or snagged by the soundbite gestapo. Have a human moment and there will be hell to pay, and “Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matt 5:26).
What a great moment to be people who don’t “lay down the law” but instead go about showering people with “grace and truth.” If only this was the reputation of Christians today! Isn’t it sad that the people who once flocked to Jesus—the marginal, the outcasts, the “sinners” and those the religious establishment condemned—are today running away from the church? Many view Christians as judgmental and exclusive, divisive and opinionated, rigid and doctrinaire. These same folks then assume that our God must also be a stern, score-keeping Judge in the Sky who welcomes the righteous but turns his back on those who don’t make the cut.
Yet, Jesus has come to show us what God is truly like. “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God…has made him known.” What is He really like? What does this Jesus bring with him wherever he goes? What does he leave behind on the floors where he has walked? Footprints of “grace and truth.”
“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:13).
“He makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike” (Matt 5:45).
He draws a protective line in the sand between you and your Accuser, and standing with you he says, “Let all who are without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
Grace comes to the humble and broken, the sinners and misfits. The Truth he brings sets the captives free while exposing the self-righteousness of those who think they’re better than others.
What about you and me? Will we follow in his footsteps and become people characterized by grace and truth? Or will we join in the chorus of cultural critics, media moguls, Facebook feuds, political grandstanders, and arm chair experts spouting opinions on things we know little about? What kind of God are we making known to others? May we strive to become people of gutsy grace and gentle, Jesus-shaped truth.
Let us ponder this quote from John Wesley, another one who lived a life full of grace and truth: