And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
If we didn’t know better, we might wonder these days if it is possible to be a person that is both nice and biblical. The impression that is often given is that you can only be one or the other. Since people that uphold the Bible as unexpired truth are usually harsh and unaccepting, in order to be a nice person, the new norms of our post-modern culture require that you abandon the Bible, or at least certain parts of it.
But this isn’t true.
There’s no doubt, one of the biggest challenges facing Christians today is how do we maintain fidelity to Scripture while doing so with a kind spirit? Said another way, can we faithfully hold on to the Bible without hitting anyone in the head with it? Or, can we approach the difficult conversations of our day in a manner that is cloaked in both kindness and unbending conviction?
It’s a tall order to be sure. Like walking on a tightrope, this task requires thoughtful balance. To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world as the Lord says we are, we must be nice and biblical at the same time.
For a brilliant example of how to handle this tension, consider the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Would you agree that two thousand years removed from the time of Christ, application of biblical truth is still most controversial in the context of sexuality? It seems that the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics is where many folks decide to get off the bus.
In this case, the lady had been caught in the act of adultery and the harsh penalty according to the law was death by stoning. You may remember that, like a circling school of blood-thirsty sharks, the crowd had picked up their rocks to stone her, when Jesus came to her defense and told them that whoever was without sin could go first and “throw the first stone.” Upon hearing this they all dropped their rocks and walked away.
Jesus saved the day. He always does.
Notice that rather than adapting and revising the sexual ethics in play, Jesus upheld the standard right where it was. Though He sheltered her from condemnation, Jesus called her adulterous behavior “sin.” He said, “Go and sin no more.”
The ethical standard did not change. Neither did the penalty really. It’s just that Jesus knew He would soon be taking the death penalty on her behalf, so that she could be justly pardoned. He would die so that she could live. Really live.
The same applies to you and me. Jesus died so that we could live.
Jesus, who is the Word of God become flesh, is full of grace and truth – not half and half – but a full measure of both. He is nice and He is biblical. In these tense and challenging days may He help us to represent the same.
It’s a new way with God. Run with it.