“Full of Grace and Truth”

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Until now, I’ve always read John 1:14 as an argument that Jesus perfectly combined the ability to tell people the truth with grace.  The truth that I thought he was telling was essentially the Law.  It was used as an example for when you need to tell your friend that they’re sinning, but in such a graceful way that it isn’t self-righteous or antagonistic.

I heard John 1:14 read recently, and it struck me that “truth” might be referring to something else entirely.  Maybe Jesus’s truth was the good news.  And I mean the actual good news, the stuff that cuts through the lies of the world.  The kind of truth that IS grace.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

LIE:  I have to work for God’s love.
TRUTH:  God’s love is mine, unconditionally and forever, just as I am.

LIE:  This life, with all its suffering and pain, is as good as it gets.
TRUTH:  God’s kingdom of peace and righteousness IS coming, in small ways now and fully in the next life.

LIE:  God may “love” me, but he doesn’t like me.
TRUTH:  God is DELIGHTED by me, and he is glad that I exist.

LIE:  God wants me to work for him to prove that I am his.
TRUTH:  God wants to show me his vision of the world and of every person so that I will be so captivated by hope that I will use the talents he’s given me to act with his love.

LIE:  When I mess up, God is disappointed in me.
TRUTH:  God is far more patient with me than I am with myself.

LIE:  The thing that matters is being right with God.
TRUTH:  The thing that matters is knowing God.

Happy Easter

Self-Hatred, Legalism, and Grace, Grace, Grace

 

I distinctly remember sitting on Lindsay T.’s couch on July 4, 2013, drinking from a cheap Strawberry Daquiri Seagram’s bottle.  “I don’t know if God loves me,” Lindsay admitted.  We had recently upgraded our acquaintanceship to friendship, and this conversation was a milestone.  “God loves me when I’m good,” I responded.  “But deep down I’m pretty sure He’s just waiting to give up on me if I screw up.”

Just two years later when I graduated from seminary, everything had changed.

I spent three years hearing my professors say things like, “God is not the god of karma, but the God of grace,” and “It is grace that justifies us, sanctifies us, AND glorifies us,” and “When I get to heaven and God asks why I deserve to be there, I’ll just shake my head and whisper, ‘Jesus.'”  I spent three years in a church that offered weekly Communion so that we never forgot where our strength comes from.  I spent three years in a small group where we argued about abortion and gay marriage and Islam and transsexuality and feminism in safety and love.  I spent three years befriending counselors who were delighted to discover my darkest secrets and shared their own with me.  I was spoiled with grace.

But then I moved home.  The problem with leaving your hometown and changing is that when you return…you revert to your old mental and emotional habits.  Or at least, I do.  Who was I before I learned to trust in God’s unconditional love?  I was the Good Girl.  I measured my worth in my modesty, I argued people into heaven, and I covered my possessions in simplistic Christian statements.  I was determined to earn people’s approval.  I was determined to earn God’s approval.  I knew how to work the system, and honestly, it was comforting.  Legalism is nothing if not controlling, and I am good at controlling things.   Continue reading “Self-Hatred, Legalism, and Grace, Grace, Grace”

Thank You, Dallas Theological Seminary

I am a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary!  Three years of reading, writing, and learning, and I am a Master of Biblical Counseling.  I am so relieved to have a brain break, but I admit that part of me is sad to leave the school behind.

IMG_4416DTS is not a perfect place because it is full of Christians.  But despite my occasional rages against the more conservative leanings of the school, I am so grateful to have attended.  My faith blossomed at DTS as I learned to see truth everywhere–in psychology textbooks, in the Bible, in nature.  I learned to trust in a God bigger than I’d ever considered, a God who cannot be fathomed except that He made Himself known.  I learned to stop putting so much of my identity in my GPA, to value knowledge for its own sake rather than for a grade.  And more than that, I learned to put knowledge into practice, because what’s the point of having wisdom if it doesn’t affect the way you live and love other people?

Most of all, DTS taught me to appreciate grace.  I live so often by the law of karma, demanding good for the good things I do and expecting bad when I do something wrong.  I learned, by teaching and by experience, that God throws cause and effect out of the window.  I learned to delight in a God who gives and gives and gives, who held out His arms to His people no matter how many times they ran away from Him.  Continue reading “Thank You, Dallas Theological Seminary”