At the beginning of his Gospel, the apostle John described Jesus as “the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). Then he adds that Jesus was “full of grace and truth”. John is saying that Jesus’ glory was seen in His unmerited love for sinners and in His revelation of what is real.
Jesus is “full of grace of truth”. But, sometimes, His followers are not — especially when we are confronted with someone struggling with sexual brokenness. Sometimes, we forget about the truth. Sometimes, we forget about grace.
What about you? When talking to someone struggling with sexual brokenness, do you stress on truth and forget that Jesus came into the world to save sinners? Or do you overemphasise grace and make accommodations for sin?
Everyone is sexually broken in some way because everyone lives under the curse of sin, and sin touches every part of our lives. Some are attracted to people of the same sex. Some are addicted to pornography. Some are involved in extramarital affairs. Some struggle with their gender.
The church’s response to the sexually broken must be a truth-and-grace response. We must know and be clear about what the Bible says about homosexuality and gender and adultery and lust. And we must know and be clear about what the Bible says about every person on earth, namely, that they are made in the image of God and loved by God.
We must be clear about what the Bible says about every person on earth: they are made in the image of God and loved by God
Our approach to the sexually broken can end up pushing them away if we just focus on the sin at the expense of the whole picture. For example, telling someone who is addicted to pornography to simply “stop sinning” is not enough. Yes, there is sin and it needs to be addressed. But what about the specific reasons why this person is struggling with this particular sin?
Jesus accompanied his truth-telling with mercy, kindness, and understanding. He brought truth with grace. He saw people as people, not just as sinners.
It seems to me that many conservative, Bible-believing Christians have an anthropology (view of man) that elevates our fallenness in sin over our basic dignity and value as image bearers of God. The Bible says that we are, at one and the same time, both good and bad, both beautiful and ugly. From the moment of conception, we are under the curse of sin and made in the image of God.
We need to take both truths into every conversation we have with a sexually broken person. We need to understand that sin has darkened and wounded their heart. That they are precious people made in the image of God. That they are hurting, confused, lonely, angry, and scared. That they may have been sexually abused in some way. That they struggle to think that anyone can understand them or that they can experience change.
We need to give them grace and truth. We need to tell them that Jesus’ truth sets us free from the lies of the evil one and the bondage to sin and shame. And we need to tell them that His grace makes us new and makes us clean.
Jesus came into the world “full of grace and truth”. This is the Jesus the world needs.
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