Friday, March 8, 2013

Equal Measures

I always enjoy reading the Union Gospel Mission's newsletters, but Phil Altmeyer's introduction in the January edition stood out to me.  I've been meaning to share it on my blog.  Here is a link, but I'll copy and paste below just in case it gets removed at some point:

Equal Measures
 by Phil Altmeyer, Executive Director, Union Gospel Mission
I have an antique brass level sitting in my office where I will see it frequently and be reminded of the importance of balancing two essential components of the gospel: grace and truth.
Jesus Christ is the gospel, the good news, and John 1:14 tells us that he “came full of grace and truth.” We are often tempted to emphasize one over the other or to think of grace as the good bit and truth as the hard pill that must be swallowed with a generous spoonful of grace. But Scripture paints a completely different picture. Jesus himself says that He is the way, the truth and the life and promises that the truth will set us free.
Consider the story of Christ’s encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria. He knows the truth of her life and speaks it: “You have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” There’s no need for her to pretend to be something she is not. Christ knows the truth and that makes his grace-full offer of living water all the more meaningful. When the woman shares her experience with the other townspeople, she says: “He told me everything I ever did.” She is fully known (truth) and loved (grace).
Occasionally, I’ll take the level from my office on speaking engagements to make the point that when we get truth and grace out of balance, a distorted picture of the Christian walk results, and we risk building on a skewed foundation. Specifically with regard to rescue and recovery, truth without grace translates into shame and encourages outward compliance without inner transformation. Grace without truth diminishes personal responsibility and makes people dependent. Both errors obscure the beauty of the gospel: God knows you completely (the good, the bad and the ugly) and loves you unconditionally. When you believe and trust in Him, He promises to work in you, change you, make you more like Him.
The good news is the best news when we realize that Jesus Christ is the perfect marriage between grace and truth. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” Psalm 85:10.
Please pray for us here at the Union Gospel Mission that we will keep that level balanced and build on a solid foundation – being honest with each other, holding up the mirror of Scripture, confessing our sins, forgiving one another, and reflecting the love of Christ in grace and truth.
This is how I want to be.  I want to uphold truth while loving people.  I don't want to compromise my values, but I want to show compassion and patience.  I may not agree with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ on every point of doctrine, but I want to look past our differences at their hearts.  I have been dumbfounded at the number of Christians accepting and overlooking blatant sin in today's society, but I have also been dumbfounded by the Christians who shun and avoid other Christians who are obviously sincere, who have a clear devotion to Jesus, simply because they don't agree to live by all the same rules.  I think many churches emphasize either grace or truth too much.  Too often they are either overlooking destructive sin in the name of love or straying into legalism in the name of holiness.  There is a fine balance that I don't think can be obtained without the Lord's guidance, but it is the balance I look for in a church.  It's the balance I think all of us need to seek if we desire to follow our Lord in all the fullness of Salvation.  Jesus is grace and truth, the perfect solution to humanity's spiritual needs.


katrina said...

Thank you for this post! Striving to be the same...not always easy...but striving!!! An encouraging read this morning!