Christians tend to have the same kind of trouble as the drunken man on a horse. When the drunken man falls off the right side of his horse he gets back on. Once he is back on his horse he ends up falling off the left side. We tend to be people of extremes. We look for ways to justify these extremes. Perhaps the most popular way is when we look at Jesus life to find ways to justify our view. We see this issue often when dealing with the balance of grace and truth.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Jesus was full of grace and truth. He was kind and merciful to sinners, but he did not ignore their sin. When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus he let her go free. He gave a lecture about how the one without sin could be the one to cast the first stone at the woman. People misunderstand so much to this story.
Jesus did not give the woman mercy so that she could go about living her life the way she was. Jesus gave her a second chance to live a better life. He did not overlook her sin, but He was merciful to her in her sin. Why is this so important? Because we often fall off the horse rather than keep our balance.
I suppose you could say that this is a conclusion of sorts from the last two posts on sin I have written. We need to have grace because we have experienced grace, but we also need to have truth. We need to express truth because we never would have been able to experience God’s grace if no one made us aware of truth. We need to know we are in sin if we are going to experience grace.
Chances are you lean heavily on the side of grace or truth. I encourage you to see how Christ always struck a balance between these two qualities. Christ was full of grace when He interacted with the woman caught in adultery. He kept the other men from stoning her. He also made sure she understood that her sin was a problem. He actually showed further grace by presenting her with truth.
Maybe you only want to focus on the aspects of Jesus being love. I think we fall into this trap because we only think about the Jesus found in the gospels. We forget He was there in the beginning since He is also God. We forget He was around during the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the multiple times the Israelites were dragged off into captivity. We also forget the Jesus that is shown after the gospels.
We get a pretty different picture of Jesus in the book of Revelation.
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Rev. 19:11-21)
There is something that really saddens me about both sides of this horse. They both inadvertently make some horrible statements about Christ. The only grace side portrays Christ as a pansy. The only law and truth side presents Jesus as tyrannical dictator who hates everyone. Jesus is neither of those things. He is a perfection of balance that we must strive to emulate. He is our savior who was full of grace in giving us mercy. He gave us so much mercy that he died for us even though we were undeserving of it. He is also our King and Lord, and he will return acting out those titles in every sense of the word. Because He died for us He expects us to live a new life since we are now a new creation. We will still sin, but sanctification is now meant to play a role. There is no going back once we accept God’s grace. God gave us mercy like He did to the adulterous woman, but now He is calling us to move forward. He is calling us to leave that life of slavery in sin behind. He is calling us to go forward and sin no more.