Truth can stand on its own, but truth standing by itself can appear to be a little high and mighty. Are you surprised that John describes Christ in the opening chapter of his book as being full of ‘grace and truth’? What an attractive combination. A good chef knows the key to being a top chef is in the presentation! presentation is everything! The way we present the Good News should be seasoned with a generous amount of grace. If I come across as superior and judgmental, most likely the truth I am trying to share will be left on the plate and scraped into the trash bin.
In practical terms, if you overheard me in conversation with someone who says something ridiculous, and my response was to jump all over that and to bring that person down to size, think of what effect that would produce. Not only will that method NOT bring him over to my side of the river, he will proceed and build a dam to block my side of the water from seeping into his!
After many readings of the gospels I honestly conclude that the truth message Jesus brought was both authoritative and welcomed because it first came from the gentle grace He exuded. He developed real relationships rather than destroying arguments. Please quote me on that! It is no accident that John mentions grace before truth. Another way of putting it is that He gracefully incarnated truth before He proclaimed it. Yes, there were a few occasions when He pointed out truth that wasn’t received. That is normal. And we can point out times when He was indignant towards those who were supposed to represent the heart of God, but instead made heaven’s heart look like that of an unbending dictator.
Everything being equal, the pattern of Jesus’ life and conversations suggests to me that wonderfully designed mercy bridges were framed for the outcasts, the marginal, the poor, the unclean and the sinner to enter over to God’s Graceland. Quote me on that too and keep it in mind for the next time you have a conversation about truth.