Grace and Truth

It has seemed that every pastor I know has felt obligated to share their impressions and opinions over the past week about the world’s journey toward Hades in the proverbial hand-basket. So, I guess I should weigh in as well, with a few observations from a mind that is admittedly troubled and a heart that grieves for our nation, on the eve of her 239th birthday.

This 4th of July is like none other in my lifetime, I believe. For those of us who consider ourselves flag-waving patriots who love America, there is certainly a level of disillusionment in the rapid move toward secularism and the loss of common sense in our land. It is difficult to watch the eroding of our nation’s Godly heritage by those who attempt to whitewash our history of its Christian origins, and overturn centuries of “Judeo-Christian” values.
Having said that, as our American culture continues its downward spiral into a morass of immorality–where, like in the days of Judges, “every man does what is right in his own eyes”–I am reminded that this is not really our home. The Bible tells us that as Christ-followers, our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), that we are “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2:11) here who are merely passing through. We live in this in-between time trying to make a difference for Christ where we are. Our calling is to be “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-16), preservatives amidst the decay of this present world, and light in the darkness.
Specifically, as it relates to last week’s Supreme Court decision which attempted to redefine marriage to include same-sex partners, let me say with confidence that I believe the Bible calls homosexuality sin. It is condemned by Scripture, in both the Old and New Testament, and certainly one of the signs of God’s judgment is when a society “not only continues to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Rom. 1:32) We as the church are doing no one any favors if we shrink away from the truth of God’s word, and stop calling sin “sin,” however politically incorrect it may be. Even if doing so may soon be called a “hate crime,” and some of us may find ourselves in jail for doing it.
On the other hand, as we stand up for truth, we must never compromise displaying the same love and grace that has been exhibited to us “while we were yet sinners” by our Lord Jesus. Our world is confused and lost, but not hopeless. Jesus Christ, the one who came “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) calls us to continue to proclaim his gospel of hope to sinners like us. None of us are righteous, no not one, though some of us just sin a little differently than others. We will all give an account of our lives, including those of us who have been given the gift of grace and expected to share it with others.
Be assured of one thing: no one will ever be drawn to Christ by those who offer them condemnation and hatred, no matter their sin. To borrow from a quote we shared in the ePistle a month or so back, “If you do things in the name of Jesus, that end up making you less like Jesus, you’ve misunderstood Jesus.”
And so we live, “in the world, but not of it,” seeking to stand up for what is right, and yet offer the same love to sinners that has been extended to us. No one ever said this would be easy, nor were we promised that we would live in some kind of Christian utopia, this side of heaven.
Let us pray, then, that God will give us the courage to stand firm for him, the boldness to “speak the truth in love,” the discernment to balance “grace and truth” like Jesus did, and the perseverance to endure whatever comes our way because we follow him. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
–Pastor Ken