It’s a grandfather’s prerogative to tease his grandkids a little bit, right? So when one of my young grandkids is first learning math, I quiz him about his newfound knowledge. “Do you know about math yet?” I ask.
“Sure, Papa, I know math.”
“Well then, what’s two plus two?”
Beaming up at me, he quickly and proudly replies, “It’s four!”
“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong. Two plus two is 22. You take one two, put it next to the other two, and you have 22. And,” I continued, “one plus one equals eleven. Three plus three is 33. Don’t you know that? Who’s teaching you math?”
Invariably, eyes roll, and I hear, “Oh, Papa, you’re wrong—2+2 is four!”
“Are you sure?” I say.
“Yes, I’m sure!” is the confident reply.
Thankfully, my grandkids are getting a good handle on the fact that truth can’t be played with. Even though I’m older, an authority figure, and a loved one, they are ready to challenge me if I don’t have the facts straight. The truth stands, and they can quickly spot (and point out) the error of my “logic.”
As Christ’s followers, we need to get a better handle on that reality. You don’t play around with truth. In fact, as John is telling us about Jesus, he assures us that we know that Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
People don’t have much trouble with the grace part. Of course God’s grace is amazing, unlimited, lavish, and actively demonstrated in the death of Jesus on the cross. He forgives sins, restores lives, and pours out countless blessings that are neither deserved nor expected. No arguments about His grace.
But when we hit the “truth” part, the world walks out in protest. Truth, in so many minds, is a pliable commodity, so flexible that you can have “your truth” and I can have “my truth,” even if they are completely contradictory. Illogically, in the world’s eyes, every claim can be equally valid and, in fact, we are quickly written off as intolerant if we point out the wrongheadedness and false thinking of a worldview that does not line up with God’s Word.
John reminds us that Jesus came not only to demonstrate God’s unlimited grace but also His absolute truth. Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life—the only way, in fact, to the Father. He told the crowd gathered at the temple that He and the Father were one. His truth claims can be rejected or received, with eternal consequences, but they cannot be altered or spun to a more politically correct alternative. They do not sync with false worldviews and are not simply one option among many.
So, the question for you and for me is: “Are we playing around with truth?” We wouldn’t be among the first to bend the words of Jesus to fit our own dreams and misplaced desires. And, I should ask, are we able to spot false truth claims and erroneous thinking as quickly as my grandkids spotted my flawed mathematical theorems? And, just as importantly, are we willing to speak out for the truth, graciously yet firmly exposing error for what it is? We can and should be agents of the grace of Christ. But let’s remember the rest of the verse and be agents of His truth as well.
It would be really great if 2+2 could be 22 when I am balancing my checkbook, but it is still and always will be four. The truth is the truth and that never changes. Thank God that He has given us truth to keep the balance of the checkbook of our lives in good order.
- How have you responded to the claims of Christ? Have you embraced Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Read Acts 4:12 to see Peter’s affirmation of Christ’s exclusive claims.
- In what ways is the world trying to play around with the truth? How do many people view God’s Word and the truths found in it?
- In your time at home, at school, at work, or in your neighborhood, how can you be an agent of God’s grace and His truth this week?