When my wife and I first arrived in Los Angeles a week ago, our host prepared a welcome dinner for us. Also invited were my two friends who picked us up from the airport and a couple of our host’s neighbors. Our conversations turned from pleasant to tense when one of the neighbors declared, “America is headed toward the dumps. They’re legalizing everything here!” It was apparent that he was about to harangue same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. My friend, who was supportive of both issues, was getting ready for his retort. If not for our host’s skillful and successful handling of the situation, the evening would have ended in an ugly debate. Before we parted ways, my friend appealed, “Lloyd, since you are in a position to influence others, I hope you could help others be more tolerant and accepting of us.”
I have been reading and teaching the Bible for more than 30 years now. I believe I have a clear idea of what the Bible teaches about God’s mission and his standards for holy, Christlike character. And I intend to remain true to my convictions and influence more people to abide by them. But how am I supposed to do that when people today frown upon the Bible’s seemingly intolerant, absolutist moral standards? Are being tolerant and having firm convictions mutually exclusive?
Today, I read John 1 and verse 14 caught my attention:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The text says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. He never compromised truth. He demanded the highest moral standards. But he never was a self-righteous, fire-breathing preacher; he was full of grace. Do you remember the incident about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11)? Everyone was condemning her, but Jesus extended his grace. Did Jesus condone her sin? No. He commanded, “Go and leave your life of sin.”
Full of grace and truth.
May I be characterized by Christ’s grace and truth as I relate to my gay friends and abrasive fundamentalists, or to everyone for that matter. If I fall short on either being gracious or truthful, please let me know, okay? Graciously, of course.
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