There’s No Christian Strategy Without Grace and Truth

By Tom Gilson Published on March 26, 2017

A couple weeks ago when I wrote on “Godly Strategy in Response to Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’, a self-described Christian, Gary, returned this strong criticism:

Go ahead Gilson. Knock yourself out. Beat your head on that rock. Try persuasion. Try being friends with perverts. In the end, you will find that you have wasted your time. But it’s your life. Waste it if you want to.

His point: Persuasion won’t work. Friendship with “perverts” won’t work.

My question to Gary: It won’t work for what? What are we here for? What are we after? And how could you have missed it so badly?

I wouldn’t pay his answer much attention if I thought no one else was saying the same kind of thing. But Christianity has a reputation for not loving gays and lesbians. Though I’m convinced there’s some intentional distortion going on there, and the reality isn’t nearly as bad as the reputation, the reputation still comes from somewhere. And it includes things like Gary has said.

Grace and Truth

For Christians, this shouldn’t be complicated. Cruelty just isn’t Christlike. Jesus, our great example, came in the glory of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Those two words, grace and truth, tell it all. In the middle of a multi-week series on Christian strategy, then, I want to pause and make sure we’re putting it in context of the right Christian perspective.

Grace without truth isn’t fully grace, for the truth is good for us even if it’s hard. And truth without grace isn’t fully true: it’s ugly and unloving, entirely unlike God Himself.

God is God. He is good, loving, righteous and holy. That’s the one supreme truth.

It’s also true that we humans fall way short of His mark (Romans 3:23). We’re proud, self-oriented, pleasure-seeking rather than God-seeking. There’s a lot of sexual immorality among us, both straight and gay, and it’s wrong.

Everywhere Jesus went He brought grace. He healed the sick. He gave rest to the weary. He brought good news to the oppressed. Through the Cross He purchased us forgiveness from sin.

So when He stopped the stoning of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), he told her in no uncertain terms: “Go and sin no more.” That was truth in action. But before he said that, He said: “Neither do I condemn you.” Apparently Jesus knew she had a contrite heart, even though she hadn’t openly confessed her sins.

Fullness, Not “Balance”

Jesus didn’t balance grace and truth. That would have required him to be careful not to have so much grace he went soft on truth, or vice versa. He was full of grace and truth. His truth was truly gracious, and His grace was genuinely filled with truth.

In fact the truths I stated earlier are dangerously incomplete, for,

  • Just as it’s true that we’re in real trouble due to sin, it’s equally true that Jesus came to rescue us.
  • Just as it’s true that the world will hate Jesus’ followers as they hated Him, it’s equally true that He calls us to love our enemies.
  • Just as it’s true we can’t love others that way on our own, it’s equally true that the Holy Spirit will enable us if we trust Him.
  • Just as it’s true that some people commit serious wrong in the eyes of God, it’s equally true that “such were some of us” (1 Cor. 6:11). And every sinner including you and me is saved by Christ’s same sacrifice on the Cross, even while we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8).

Half-Empty Christians

No one has a full measure of grace and truth like Jesus did. Some Christians, though, seem to prefer being half-empty.

Some want to be really full of grace. I wrote recently about Pastor Adam Phillips, who wants the church to show LGBT persons grace while shielding our eyes from the truth that same-sex physical intimacy is wrong, and the wrongness really matters. It’s really damaging. It’s really sin.

Other Christians seem to want to be really full of truth. That’s my impression of Gary with his talk of “perverts.” In another comment he said that “perverts” never change. There’s no grace there.

That last comment shows how badly even truth gets distorted without grace. The truth is, God gives grace to anyone who will receive it. Grace and truth can’t really be separated. Grace without truth isn’t fully grace, for the truth is good for us even if it’s hard. And truth without grace isn’t fully truth: it’s ugly and unloving, unlike God Himself.

Seeking to Live It Out

Going back to Gary’s comment, then, am I beating my head against a rock? Am I wasting my life? What if nothing I do changes lives or culture the way it needs changing? Make no mistake; influencing culture is one of my chief goals in life.

But the wider culture around Jesus wasn’t much different when He left the earth than when He arrived. So that can’t be the test of a life well lived. We can  measure the quality and success of Christian strategy in many ways. But the first test has to be whether we’re following Jesus.

You can change culture without truth: plenty of lying leaders have proved it’s possible. You can change the world without grace: history is filled with stories of harsh dictators. But you can’t have a truly Christian strategy without grace and truth in full measure together.

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  • Gary

    What won’t work? Getting homosexuals to change their minds, stop their perversion, and become Christians.

    What are we here for? Christians are here to love and obey God. To love our fellow believers (you have to judge who is a believer based on their behavior, and not just their claim). To tell those who are interested about God. That’s very condensed, but that’s what we are here for.

    What are we after? Is that the same thing as what are we here for?

    How could I have missed it so badly? I don’t think I have missed it. I guess you think I have, but I disagree.

    To be clear, I don’t mind if you, or others, spend your time trying to persuade homosexuals to change, or do whatever you want them to do. But I don’t want to spend my time that way.

    • The Evangelical

      Spreading the Gospel to unbelievers is our primary goal as Christians. God is the one who will change their hearts and save them. We are simply the means of spreading the truth to them. We do not judge if they are “interested” about God, we preach Christ all the same and pray that God will save them.

      • Gary

        You do it your way.

        • The Evangelical

          Hey, as long as we are following the great commission, then use whichever method that God has equipped you to use.

          • And the Great Commandment. But the Great Commission does include, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” so you’re on firm ground there anyway.

        • An old man once told a friend who thought all paths lead to God, “You worship God your way, I’ll worship Him His.”

          That’s the goal, the objective in outreach, too. To the best of our ability. Find what He wants us to do and to be.

          • Robert Oscar Lopez

            I think your original article on Disney was stronger on the Christianity part than on the gay movement’s part. The gay lobby is like the camel that gets inside your tent with its nose; i.e. they have a history of exploiting weaknesses they perceive. I think it is fine to come down hard on Disney because they are influencing children plus they know better with all their power and education. You do not have to love a cartoon character or a corporation or a movie trailer, since these things have no souls and cannot be saved.

          • True. People, yes. Sin they produce, no.

    • GPS Daddy

      Gary, the only people who Jesus used harsh language against were the religious people. If you don’t choose to treat people like Jesus does then who do you think Jesus will judge first? Calling anne55 the enemy is an example of not how to treat people. She is not the enemy. She is someone Jesus died for. The enemy is not human but demonic. The dark powers in heaven that the Christian struggles against and non-Christian’s are in bondage too.

      • Gary

        I disagree that no human is my enemy. I believe anne55 is my enemy, and the enemy of Christ.

        • GPS Daddy

          Your view is deplorable.

          • Gary

            Opinions vary.

        • The Evangelical

          What is your Biblical justification for this? This is completely contrary to Ephesians 6:12. And even if this were the case, so-called “enemies” are the mission field. Don’t forget that YOU were an enemy of God at one time (Ephesians 2) and were only saved by the Gospel. We need to preach the Gospel to all.

          • Gary

            Phil. 3:18, Col. 1:21

          • GPS Daddy

            The Evangelical is telling you the truth, Gary. YOU were an enemy of God once. But if your in Christ then you have been brought near to Him. That means you share the same view the Father does to those that are lost… love. NOT hate.

      • Kevin Quillen

        “The enemy is not human but demonic” your quote. Who was Jesus talking about when He told us to love our enemies? Demons? People?
        I will defend Gary. I use the term queers for lbgtwxyz. Using their term only serves to legitimize them. They are perverts, according to the definition of pervert. We must confront and never acquiesce. If you really love people then you call out the sin and tell them to repent. Gary is right, perverts will not change because we treat them nice. They will only respond to God’s drawing, if they choose to hear.

        • GPS Daddy

          I’m very glad that Mr. Gipson has written this article to expose people with the views you and Gary expose. As much as Christians need to be engaged in the culture war Christians need to expose and fight against false gospels that people like you and Gary teach.

          • Gary

            You’re a liar. I don’t teach a false gospel. My theology and morality are strictly Biblical. That you don’t agree proves that YOU don’t understand, or don’t believe the Bible.

          • GPS Daddy

            Gray, you are preaching a gospel of hate. That is a false gospel.

          • Gary

            There is no such thing as a “gospel of hate”. You are ignorant, and a liar.

          • GPS Daddy

            Gary, you know those TV preachers that tell their audience that if they send in their “faith” offering God will heal them? What message are they sending?

          • Gary

            They want your money and they hope you are foolish enough to send them some.

          • GPS Daddy

            How about the word “greed”? Think about the person who knows nothing about Jesus and tunes into one of those stations. If they are wise enough to see what’s going on do you think they might come away thinking that Christians are greedy?

          • Gary

            They might. What does that have to do with me?

          • GPS Daddy

            Let me ask you this, Gary: I think you would agree with me that the greedy TV preacher is not representing Christ, right? How to you think Jesus would feel about the TV preacher and what do you think Jesus would say to the greedy TV preacher?

        • GPS Daddy

          John 3:16
          For God So Loved the World
          “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

  • GPS Daddy

    I did not even need to finish reading this to give it two thumbs up. I have found environmentals like this are very hard to present Christ in. You don’t have body language. You don’t see facial expressions. And it really easy to be bold when in person you might cower. I stopped social media a year ago because I was becoming mean. I may not stay on if I find myself not representing Christ well. This kind of forum is not for everyone.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Who was it that came into the world not to condemn it but that it might be saved ?
    Hey, It’s not that believers should be complacent about sin. We are commanded to judge
    sin. Our own. The Spirit of God is the only one qualified to convict the world of their sin.
    He welcomes our cooperation. He doe’s not need our help. Theres a huge difference. Seems like those who embrace a
    theology of the “letter & the law” at the expense of “grace & truth” are destined to a “ministry” of
    something less than the “Spirit & the word” ….

  • Andrew Moffat

    Great article!

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