Monday, August 29, 2005

Thoughts on grace and truth...

"...grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." -John 1:17

I spend a lot of time mulling over the idea of grace and truth. These two concepts are meant to co-exist and harmonize with one another, but on a practical level I often find them at odds with each other.

By nature I tend to be a justice-oriented person. I have always felt comfortable with clear boundary markers for right and wrong and I tend to wilt when a lot of decision-making is required to figure out what needs to be done. The gray areas of life can leave me feeling lost.

As a Christian I have felt comfortable with a set of "do's and don'ts" that apply to my life. To be honest, quite often I have to force myself to be gracious and accepting towards people who do things differently than me, but in my heart I have a tremendous desire to change.

The truths that God places on my heart are meant for me to internalize. When I apply those leadings to other people, expecting them to obey also, I turn those truths into laws. I begin to take the directions for my own life and place them as burdens on the backs of others, expecting them to carry what was meant for me alone.

My desire is to be characterized by grace. I want to accept the grace that God has for me and, in turn, extend it to those around me. My fear has been that this will lead to the acceptance of things that are unacceptable. But I am learning that the unacceptable things in life are God's job and not mine, and my judgmental attitude does nothing to change those things, it only makes me an abrasive person.

Twice this week I have come across this verse describing the Pharisees:
"...some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." -Luke 18:9

That describes exactly who I DON'T want to be anymore. I want my trust to be in God, that the grace and truth He pours into my life is sufficient for me AND for those around me.