Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grace + Truth = Wow

We have had a weekend chock full of noteworthy events. Friday night some friends of ours saw the realization of a dream as they celebrated the grand opening of a business they built from the ground up. Saturday morning my parents came for a visit and to watch K play soccer. Saturday afternoon/evening we celebrated the 40th birthday of a close friend. This morning we made the early morning trek to Atlanta for the 9am service at Buckhead Church and to spend midday celebrating my father-in-law's 70th birthday. We then came home in order to change clothes and head about 40 minutes back out of town for a party celebrating our 25 college-aged Young Life leaders who are heading off for the Summer. Whew!

Somewhere in the midst of all that I heard two sermons (parts 5 & 6 of Andy Stanley's "Christian" series) that I truly believe will be life-changing. I confess I have not heard any of the other installations of this series, but the premise is getting behind the cultural connotations/biases with what it means to be "Christian" and to instead look at Jesus and be followers of Him.

The two sermons I heard today focused on the tension caused by loving messy people like Jesus did. The primary point Andy made was that Jesus was FULL of grace and FULL of truth. He was not either/or, but a complete embodiment of both. (John 1:16)

Andy challenged that if we want to truly love like Jesus, we have to live in that tension--even when it will make us sometimes seem inconsistent. Even if people wonder what we are really about. When he said, "the Son of God came to seek and to save the lost, not to guard His reputation," I winced uncomfortably. Ouch.

And when Andy described Jesus' example of grace and truth, I rewound the sermon and played it over three times: (This is part paraphrase, part quote from the sermons...hard to tell which was which from my notes...)
Jesus called sin sin, 
then He paid for it and declared that He did not condemn it. 
He told us to all leave our lives of sin. 
If we don't, He loves us. 
If we can't, He loves us.
Sin has its own 'gotchas' that godly wisdom and obedience will enable us to avoid.
The TRUTH is that we are sinners and the GRACE is that He doesn't condemn us.
God could not love you more and there is nothing you can do to cause Him to love you less.
He feels the same way about every person we come into contact with.
We are at our best when we embrace truth AND grace and don't let go of either.

I cannot tell you how much I needed to hear this message. I struggle so much with how to emulate Jesus in this arena of Grace AND Truth. It is such a fleshly tendency of mine to go too far one direction or the other. And the inconsistency mentioned above? I can so relate.

It is a humbling gift to be reminded of His great love for me and deeply convicting to remember that He feels exactly the same way about even the most difficult people in our lives. I stumble and fumble through my attempts at this when they are based on my circumstances, my feelings and my fears as opposed to HIS example.

"Your love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me. Your love goes on and on and on..." -lyrics from One Thing Remains by Jesus Culture

Consider me challenged.


Lori said...

I attend NorthPoint and have loved the last 2 weeks! This truth girl has had a hard time with the balance of grace AND truth. I am way to much like the prodigal son. 3 years ago after I found out my husband was having an affair the holy spirit pressed those two words from John grace AND truth deeply into me. Those very hard days that all I really wanted was the justice side to be displayed I could remember the whisper GRACE AND TURTH. So thankful that God is both and by his grace he can teach me to be both as well even while I am kicking and screaming!

JMom said...

Lori, What a testimony. I am humbled just hearing it. It is one thing to profess Grace and truth--another thing entirely to have to live it out. May God bless your obedience!

The Burgess Family said...

I needed to hear this words more than you can ever imagine. I have a friend that is in a terrible sticky situation. I want to be there for her and I want to run far far away b/c it is so difficult for me to comprehend how she got here. Thank you for sharing.