When I was a kid, I tried to invent my own food. I thought it would be cool to be the guy who invented peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and fluff, or peanut butter and bread, or just peanut butter out of the jar. The problem was (and still is), I am a horrible cook.
My combinations didn’t have that magic chemistry that makes the mouth water. Pudding and hot dogs. Ham and jelly. Ketchup and bologna. I never could get my parents to eat my culinary masterpieces. They loved me, but not enough to gag down my food inventions. Truth was, I could barely gag them down myself.
Today, there is a lot of religious teaching that people have a difficult time swallowing. And I wonder if it because we have forgotten that magical recipe Jesus came to share with us. Scripture says, Jesus was filled to the brim with grace and truth (John 1:14). Grace and truth. What an interesting recipe!
I seem to notice teachers today cooking with one ingredient, but not much of the other. When this happens, the teachings of the church are just as hard to gag down as my ham and jelly sandwiches.
Grace, without truth. The gospel is grace to the bone. But grace is not designed to come at the expense of truth. There are some teachings on grace that seem to help people avoid truth, rather than experience it. Rather than experiencing grace as we discover the truth about God and ourselves, we use grace to cover up the truth about God and ourselves. Grace, for some, is an excuse to continue living in the lies of this world.
Truth, without grace. Truth is truth. But truth without grace is terrifying. And truth taught by a graceless person is repulsive. Some teachings in the church today are true, but void of grace. And truth without grace is ultimately not the gospel.
But Jesus was filled with grace and truth.
His words were sharp and true. Narrow is the road that leads to life. Fruitless branches will be cut off and thrown into the fire. If you hate, you kill. If you lust, you commit adultery. You cannot serve God and money. The truth is that you have five husbands. You do not have in mind the things of God.
But he was filled with grace. Abide and rest in me. I have come to bring life. Do not worry. I am the way. I do not condemn you. Your sins are forgiven. Today, salvation has come to this house. It is the sick who need a doctor.
I am imagining a church that is filled with grace and truth.
A church that speaks words that sharp and true. Substantive, not politically correct. Honest, not popular. Eternal, not superficial.
And a church that is filled with grace. That meets people with forgiveness, not condemnation. Love, not hate. Hospitality, not judgment.
Yep, that is the recipe.