We’ve spent the last 3 days looking at sharing truth and showing grace, and how they seem so contradictory, when in fact they are actually quite complimentary. This paradox of needing to both share the uncompromising truths from God’s Word, as well as show God’s grace to everyone, can be a little difficult to grasp. But it’s important that we do so, since the one who we claim to follow, Jesus, was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Today’s study talked about the true symmetry found in sharing truth and showing grace, comparing it to the two strands of a DNA segment – each separate strand running in opposite directions, yet complementing each other to provide perfect spiritual balance and stability. As an illustration of sharing truth, the author of the study (Randy Alcorn) told the following story. I don’t usually like to copy this much straight out of my studies, but this story was too good to pass up.
A few years ago the church I used to pastor and still attend was picketed by 30 protesters. Why? Some of our members go to abortion clinics and offer alternatives, sharing the gospel when they can. Sometimes they hold up signs saying, Consider Adoption, Let Your Baby Live, and We’ll Help Financially.
Three proabortion groups decided to join forces and give our church a taste of our own medicine. On a rainy Sunday morning our church parking lot was invaded by Radical Women for Choice, Rock for Choice, and the Lesbian Avengers. Having heard they were coming, we set out donuts and coffee. I spent 1½ hours with a protester named Charles, who held a sign saying, Keep Abortion Legal.
We talked a little about abortion and a lot about Christ. I explained the gospel. He gave me his address. Later I sent him some Christian literature.
I liked Charles. But when you believe as I do that abortion is killing children, it’s a bit awkward serving coffee and holding an umbrella for someone waving a proabortion sign. If you don’t understand, imagine doing that for someone holding a sign declaring, Legalize Rape or Kill Minorities. Yet because of the opportunity to share Christ’s grace, it seemed right.
It’s not just truth that puts us in awkward situations. So does grace. On the morning we were picketed, some street preachers showed up to take on the abortion activists with signs threatening hell and damnation. Their message contained truth, but their approach lacked grace. One of the the street preachers barged between my daughter and me and a few Lesbian Avengers just as we finally had an opportunity to talk with them. The door of witnessing was slammed in our face – by Christian brothers.
We tried to reason with the street preachers. After all, this was our church, and we didn’t want them screaming at our “guests,” even if they were screaming truth. Most cooperated, but a few decided we were compromising truth and it was an abomination for us to offer donuts to people who needed to be rebuked.
The following Sunday, two street preachers picketed our church, scolding us for our “pathetic” attempts at donut-and-coffee evangelism.
After 21 years without being picketed, our church was picketed two weeks in a row – first by radically liberal nonbelievers for speaking truth and second by radically conservative believers for showing grace.
That’s a great illustration of how hard it is to balance truth and grace. Usually by doing so, you’re going to be hated by somebody, but remember that Jesus said “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18). And when we lose the approval of those who side on truth, or we lose the approval of those who side on grace, remember that our approval should come from the one who was “full of grace and truth,” Jesus, our Lord.