Truth and Love

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The truth came into this world. The Word, the logos of God. The fulfillment of the law and the prophets as well as the vocation of Israel. The perfect revelation of who God is. Truth is a light unto men in a dark world. A dark world needs truth. The light exposes the darkness as much as it gives light to it. Though not all of it, part of the proclamation of truth is that it exposes the problem of the darkness. It needs to know that the problem is sin. Jesus came to fix that problem. The Kingdom of God deals with, at ground level, sin. Overall, the church is often well practiced at proclaiming this. But we cannot ignore that Jesus came full of grace and truth. Grace is from love. Grace gives us what we do not deserve. When the Word became flesh, truth came into the world in flesh so that truth could be practiced with love. God had always been proclaiming truth though things and people. Now God was proclaiming truth in flesh. Immanuel. How he did it makes all the difference in the world.

The proclamation of truth without the practice of love is not the Jesus way.

It is easy to say what you want to say in our tech world. It’s easy to throw out your opinion to the masses because of social media. Our world is overflowing with people saying a lot of things. Simply open your Facebook page, type away, and hit enter -a message to the four hundred or so ‘friends’ connected to your page. One thing that some Christians do is use social media to proclaim what they believe to be the truths of scripture, the truths of the Kingdom of God. The proclamation of truth is a form of love.  Nothing really wrong with this…unless truth is given without the practice of love. A whole lot of saying and no doing. Just because one believes they have truth does not mean they can go about that truth in any manner they choose. So it is with the message of the Kingdom. We must proclaim truth along with the practice of love. This is what Jesus did. This is what we are to do. This is vitally important when one wants to proclaim truth about sin. Often, a person will want to proclaim truth about a particular sin. Maybe a hot topic in our society. Maybe towards a particular group of people. The question is, as you proclaim truth about this particular sin, how are you practicing love along with it in a particular way? It should make you stop and make you really think. How are you the embodiment of the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth, in that particular issue you are speaking towards? How can you practice love in a tangible, maybe relational way? That’s how Jesus did it. That’s how he brought truth to the world- the truth you proclaim to be a representative of.

(Maybe a quick side not here: When we begin to live practicing love, the rest of what Jesus says falls into place. Things that we often struggle with. Words like meek and peacemaker. Phrases like ‘love your enemies’ and ‘whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all’. The practice of love allows the life traits of humility, obedience, and servant to show. This is the Jesus way. Of course, we must grow into these things…)

When I think of truth without love, I think of the Pharisee in parable that Jesus told about humility found in Luke 18:9-14. “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Humility is the key. Truth without love breeds pride. Humility rids one of confidence in his righteousness that causes him to look down on the sinner. The Pharisee knew truth about sin but missed it’s essence because he did not practice it in love. He had a prideful view of the sinner. You cannot pray better than your heart. You cannot proclaim truth better than your heart.  If you are not humble, you will not look to love and serve those to whom you are proclaiming truth to.

We should never make it hard for others to enter the Kingdom of God. We do this when we proclaim truth and do not practice love. Remember, we each have the opportunity to enter the Kingdom because of grace and truth, not truth alone. Truth exposes sin. Love paves the way to salvation. When we proclaim truth with the practice of love and it is then hard for someone to enter the Kingdom, then it becomes that person’s personal struggle with the things of God. But the Kingdom should not be hard to get into because of how we proclaim truth. I’ve heard it said that the church needs to be excellent at accepting those who are not good at being spiritual. We do this by practicing love. If the Pharisee understood this his view of his own righteousness as well as his view of, and interaction with, the tax collector would have been vastly different. When one proclaims truth without the practice of love he proclaims truth from a sense of his ‘being good at being spiritual.’ That’s pride.

Proclaim the Kingdom. Proclaim the truth of the Word made flesh. Proclaim the truth found in scripture. But match each syllable, each word, each verse with the practice of love. Then, and only then, are we are like our Savior.    

Philippians 2:3-8 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

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