I think most everyone would agree that our country is a political & social hot bed right now. It might be the only thing we would agree on. It doesn't matter where the table is or who the table belongs to, the conversation eventually turns to politics; who's right & who's wrong and what have they done now. I usually keep my mouth shut. Admittedly, I mat be a little ignorant on the details as we don't have cable and therefore don't watch the news. But I do a lot of listening, reading & thinking.
You know what I think? I think that it's not much different than climate in Jesus' day. Sure the topics may seem different but the unrest and spiritual deficit is the same. You know what else is the same? The need for a Messiah. The Jews were looking for rescue from the Romans. I personally am looking for rescue from most everyth ing in this world. It is easy to become disheartened when we look at the depths of depravity our humans natures have taken us.
The Messiah has come.
He has come in grace & truth.
In the last few weeks, I have sat at the table listening to several conversations. Each exchange represented a different attitude or approach if you will. One discussion included the desire to come to the table in love but was unsure as to how to make this happen while standing on what they believed. Another, was quite passionate and allowed little room for disagreement or even getting a word in edge wise. And the final was a beautiful balance of articulation & humbleness. To be fair, the final conversation was a podcast* I was listening to. It was their job to present an idea and substantiate it with facts. But they did it in such a loving way, that it in itself was very convincing. It reminded me of something...
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
We observed His glory,
the glory as the one & only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
Jesus sat around the table with all sorts of people; tax collectors, pharisees, fishermen, prostitutes, rich men & poor men. You know what they talked about? The current government, right, wrong, God. What did He say; how did He respond?
The Messiah was there.
He responded in grace & truth.
When we sit around the table with all of our opinions, grace & truth can be hard to find. Sometimes there is an over abundance of grace. This creates an attitude of "anything goes" if we're not careful.
"Another slice of pie, please. Make that five slices."
Other times truth is so over exaggerated that legalism becomes the appetizer, main meal and dessert.
When I come to the table, I sit with dear friends that are gay, people dear to my heart who have struggled with a variety of addictions, women who have marched for Pro Choice, homeschoolers, public schoolers, believers and atheists; all shapes & sizes. I am mostly silent because I wrestle with grace. I so deeply believe in the truths God shares in the Bible that most issues are black & white for me. Inside of me there is such a passion for people to see the image of God created in them and recognize how the sin nature mares it that my response comes in anger. The anger is not really at people, it is at Satan and his decimation of that which is Holy in them. But this response results in the toppling of my chair backwards and loosing my spot at the table.
Perhaps it is with the maturity of aging (I hope) or maybe I've tipped over my chair enough times that I have finally realized the the solution: grace & truth. You cannot have one without the other. Jesus didn't temper His message with acceptance or conversely condemn them with it. He loved them and then said, "Go, sin no more." When grace & truth walk together hand in hand, they create compassion which leads to change.
So how do we love when we feel like truth is burning a hole through us? And how do we stand for truth when we don't want to hurt people? It is not us. We can not do it. I cannot embrace universal truth in hopes of loving someone to God. And I cannot argue absolute truth with a desire of convincing them to follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit alone can speak to one's heart, drawing them to Himself in love and saying, "Go, sin no more."
I cannot do it because He has to whisper the same loving words to my own soul.
I want to pull my chair back up to the table. But I fear it is richety & wonder if it will fall. Perhaps if I keep trying, grace will be extended to me as well and maybe one day I will be able to present truth in such a loving way that people will see the glory of God, know His grace & truth and believe fully on the Word which is Jesus.
The Messiah is still here.
He is still grace & truth.
* Mama Bear Apologetics Episode 35