In the first chapter of the gospel of John the writer tells us that Jesus came to us as the Word – the Logos of God and that this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In the Cotton Patch Gospels translation, Clarence Jordan translated that phrase as the “Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” It goes on to say in this gospel that this Word Who became flesh – Jesus – was “full of grace and truth.” What a lovely and mythic combination. The very embodiment of grace and truth came as flesh, as one of us, to show us exactly who God is and how God lives: full of Grace & Truth.
Beyond the definitions of the words, I know very little about grace and truth, aside from the fact that I am desperate for the former and usually run from the latter. But when I look at how Jesus lived and acted and treated people as we have on record in the four gospels, I begin to see just what God’s grace and truth look like: love towards enemies; speaking truth to corrupt power, religiosity, and delusional hypocrisy; mercy for the poor and the sick and broken – the perfect embodiment of compassion and mercy in flesh and action.
Jesus says the Truth will set me free; and I have been told by others much wiser than me that the truth will indeed set me free but not until it is finished with me first. The truth will set me free but it will also crush me as well. In my reading, in my life, in being with others on their spiritual journeys, it has also been my experience that the truth is always about death and resurrection simultaneously. I am set free by it, but ego and flesh are sometimes crushed by it as well.
Well, grace is that disquieting and uncomfortable reality that God loves and accepts us as we are where we are and with or through no effort of ours. What is so raw and unnerving about God’s grace is the truth that there is nothing I can do to add to or take away from God’s grace and love for me and others. God does not grow to love me more, for God is in perfect totality, so divine love is expressed in perfect totality. It is me who comes to love God more and more (or less and less); it is me who surrenders more (or less) the love that is without merit and end. God does not change, I do. God’s love and grace do not change; my openness and acceptance of them does. God’s grace is now as it was in the beginning – eternal and free flowing.
I have also learned that it is in that space, that creative tension between where I am (finite and wounded) and where God’s grace is (perfect and healing) that the amazing gift and work of transformations begins.