Truth, Grace and a Cat-O-Nine-Tails


Just before Christmas I was very taken by the description of the incarnate Word coming full of "grace and truth" (John 1: 14), and used that stick to liberally beat anyone who happened to transgress my view of how to graciously stand up for truth in the face of someone that you fundamentally disagree with.

But recently I have found myself falling into that deep dark hole... Won't bother with any kind of justifications, medically, psychologically, socially or spiritually, I have simply been horribly graceless... Both in the virtual and physical forms of reality.

Pot-kettle... Kettle-pot...

But here's a question that came to me while I was reading a rather famous episode in the life of the Word made flesh (John 2: 13-16). When is it OK to adopt the use of a "rope of cords" to beat all round you and still be regarded as full of grace and truth?

He didn't do it to the misogynist hypocrites who accused the woman (but not her paramour) of adultery (John 8: 1-11); nor those who passed judgment on another woman (why was it always women?) who anointed his feet (John 12: 1-8), nor in any other situation where it might have been legitimate, so far as we are aware. Just that episode in the temple when "zeal for his fathers house consumed him". But also, why did the stall-holders bear the brunt of his actions, when actually it was the whole system that was rotten, and (from what I have read of the temple at the time) it was the ruling families who profitted most from the wheeling and dealing inside the temple?
I'm happy to accept that "Jesus knows best" but this incident reminds me that the old "grace and truth" balance, isn't always straightforward... But I also recognise that we can use "zeal" for some righteous end, as a disguise to dress up some appalling behaviour...

Jesus wasn't "meek and mild" - even though Charles Wesley claimed he was - Indeed he was far from it...

But that doesn't grant us a license (even me) to be graceless and gratuitous in our words or actions...

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