“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only-Begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1.14
Every Christian I know, including me, is excited about grace. Grace is just one of those things for which we are all so grateful! It’s God’s way of giving us the good we do not deserve while sheltering us from the bad we have surely earned. We love grace! It’s wonderful stuff! But truth…, now, truth has a lot less appeal. Is truth really necessary? There are a lot of things about ourselves we simply would rather not know.
Think for a moment of what it would mean to hear and see the truth about ourselves from God’s point of view. It is an awful truth. Our priorities are in the wrong place. Our righteousness is false. Our religiosity offends God. Our ways lead us to death.
Many of us are decent people and believe we are not so bad. But what if we knew what God had in mind when He created us? What if we could see God’s vision of our lives when He gave us gifts and interests, talents and inclinations? If each of us walked daily with Christ and followed His lead throughout our days, God would have accomplished astonishing things with us. He would have made vastly different decisions than we did, and He would have increased our efforts exponentially with His power and goodness. What would we have done, who would we have become, if we had given Him free reign very early on?
The reality of the human condition is an intolerable truth. There are wasted years and untapped potential. Blindness and prejudice co-exist with hidden and betrayed dignity and beauty. We sell ourselves far short to pay the debts of our shortcomings. We are a study in contradictions with our vast possibilities buried beneath relentless pride and insecurities, stunted by an appalling lack of imagination. The truth of the human condition is an unbearable truth. We could have been so much but we settled for so little, and frankly, we often fail to get the little right. The majesty of the human promise is drowned by the smallness of our vision and the greatness of our fears. The truth about human life is a miserable truth.
But our Father does not require us to face that awful truth alone. The only-Begotten is full of grace and truth. That tells us a lot about the character and love of God. When the truth of the human condition is spoken to us, we are buoyed by the infinite grace of God. Peering into the abyss of the human condition, we would fall but for the arm of Christ that holds us up and turns us away from death to life. That is grace. The truth is seeing all that we could have been in Christ and realizing the sole reason we are far less is ourselves. Grace is the promise of Christ that great things are yet to be, if we lean on Him and let Him lead.
This is the time of year for resolutions. If resolutions worked, we would be a nation of thin, healthy, well-organized financial planners. Rather than make a resolution this year, ask Jesus Christ for the grace to know the truth about yourself and your life. That sounds like a terrible idea initially, but depending upon the grace of God to live in the truth brings us deeply and intimately into Christ’s own presence, Him Who is full of grace and truth.
Facing the truth about ourselves is hard to do, probably the hardest thing any person ever does. We have hurt people. We have made bad choices. We have not lived up to our potential or have failed outright. That is the truth of every human life. Yet, the truth also sets us free. This is the truth that gives life: wherever we are and whatever we have done, we are the adored of our Father, of infinite value to Him. He will redeem our lives from the pit, even if the pit is one of our own making.
As we begin a new year, maybe we should ask our Father to tell us the truth about ourselves and give us the grace to hear it. What sin does He see? What choices would He make? In what direction would He lead? Instead of taking our opinions to God and making our requests of Him, perhaps we would be far wiser – and far more productive for His Kingdom – if first we asked Him what He has in mind for us? What would Christ do with your life if you truly gave it to Him? Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee… words from an old hymn. If our lives – our gifts, shortcomings, hopes, wounds, talents, failures, dreams and all – belonged to Christ, what might He accomplish with them?
The only way to know is to ask.
In Christ –
Ó Servants’ Feast Ministry, 2007