Friday, December 08, 2006

Where Grace Meets Truth

Sometimes when I am reading the Bible, some small seemingly innocuous little phrase will leap out at me and get a hook in my spirit. A little voice will tell me, "There is more there than meets the eye." And that one word, or small phrase will just rattle around in my spirit for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. Its been that way lately with the book of John. In the first chapter and the fourteenth verse John describes Jesus as being the One and Only who came from the Father full of grace and truth. That last bit of that phrase full of grace and truth has been nagging at me for months now, and I have found myself asking God over and over, "Where does grace meet truth?"

Recently, I rented a French movie titled Red. It was excellent. One of the main characters in the story is a retired French judge. Through an accident involving his dog he meets a young woman and they slowly develop a friendship. During the course of the friendship he challenges her to look deeper at the motivations for her own actions and that of others, and to question the true meaning of justice. At one point he speaks of the decisions he made as a judge and questions them. The young woman protest and tells him that his decisions were just. He responded by asking, "Were they? In every case that I have decided, had I been in the shoes of the defendant I would have done the exact same thing."

So I am asking the question, "Where does grace meet truth?" And I am thinking perhaps the answer is mercy.

Mercy made Jesus write in the dirt while rocks fell from condemning hands.
Mercy healed blinded eyes rather than judging them.
Mercy raised a widow's only son from a death bed.
Mercy lifted Peter from the swirling waves of a tempest tossed sea.
Mercy responded to a blind man crying out from the roadside whom everyone else was trying to shush.
Mercy cried out from a cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Truth tells us the reality of our sinful situation. That none are righteous, and that in our sinful situation, we are without hope. Grace sees us there, in that place of destitution and touches those who are willing with the gift of divine salvation. If we are really walking in truth, we understand and are overwhelmed by how utterly undeserving we are of this precious gift of absolute forgiveness, and infinite love. And in that place where grace meets truth mercy is born, a mercy that causes us to go and do likewise - To forgive the seemingly unforgivable, to love the undeserving, to be generous to the ungrateful. Like the retired judge, we walk in a place of the constant knowledge of our own unworthiness and our master's boundless mercy. We understand that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags and the reality of the situation that we are all that thief on the cross, crying out to the Christ, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And rather than the judge, we reach out our hands in mercy and become living instruments of the healer.

3 comments:

JohnH said...

St. John Chrysostom has an interesting homily on this (his homily XIV on John vs.16) and from what he writes, it seems to be love even over mercy. (See the part in the link that begins with [3.]

jholder said...

Weird. I don't know where that JohnH profile came from or how it let me use it. Really, the comment above should have been attributed to 'jholder'.

Christopher said...

thanks for sharing this insight. very thoughtful.