Editor's Note: This is the second in a special devotional series. Read the introduction to the series, "A Front Row Seat to Holiness." A version of this post first appeared in the March 2012 edition of the Mission News.
Proclaiming the Good News
By Phil Altmeyer, Executive Director
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” Isaiah 61:1
I have an antique brass level sitting in my office where I will see it frequently and be reminded of the importance of balancing two essential components of the gospel: grace and truth.
Jesus Christ is the gospel, the good news, and John 1:14 tells us that he “came full of grace and truth.” We are often tempted to emphasize one over the other or to think of grace as the good bit and truth as the hard pill that must be swallowed with a generous spoonful of grace. But Scripture paints a completely different picture. Jesus himself says that He is the way, the truth and the life and promises that the truth will set us free.
Consider the story of Christ’s encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria. He knows the truth of her life and speaks it: “You have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” There’s no need for her to pretend to be something she is not. Christ knows the truth and that makes his grace-full offer of living water all the more meaningful. When the woman shares her experience with the other townspeople, she says: “He told me everything I ever did.” She is fully known (truth) and loved (grace).
Occasionally, I’ll take the level from my office on speaking engagements to make the point that when we get truth and grace out of balance, a distorted picture of the Christian walk results, and we risk building on a skewed foundation. Specifically with regard to homeless ministry, truth without grace translates into shame and encourages outward compliance without inner transformation. Grace without truth diminishes personal responsibility and makes people dependent. Both errors obscure the beauty of the gospel: God knows you completely (the good, the bad and the ugly) and loves you unconditionally. When you believe and trust in Him, He promises to work in you, change you and make you more like Him.
The good news is the best news when we realize that Jesus Christ is the perfect marriage between grace and truth. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” Psalm 85:10.
Worth thinking about: Are you more inclined to err on the side of truth without grace or grace without truth?
Take Action: Please pray for us here at the Union Gospel Mission that we will keep that level balanced and build on a solid foundation – being honest with each other, holding up the mirror of Scripture, confessing our sins, forgiving one another, and reflecting the love of Christ in grace and truth.
Download the free e-book below for more on the connection between the gospel and loving the poor.