The only “church growth formula” the early church possessed was the body of truth flowing with the blood of grace. They drew thousands to Jesus by being like Jesus.
But what does it mean to “be like Jesus”? We could come up with long lists of His character qualities. But the longer the list, the less we can wrap our minds around it. (I can’t even juggle three balls. How could I juggle dozens?)
But what if the character of Christ was reducible to two ingredients?
In fact, it is:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... 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. (John 1:1, 14, emphasis added)
Jesus is full of two things: grace and truth.
Not “full of patience, wisdom, beauty, compassion, and creativity.” In the list there are no commas and only one conjunction—grace and truth. Scripture distills Christ’s attributes into a two-point checklist of Christlikeness.
The baby born in a Bethlehem barn was Creator of the universe. He pitched His tent on the humble camping ground of our little planet. God’s glory no longer dwelt in a temple of wood and stone, but in Christ. He was the Holy of Holies.
But when He ascended back into the wide blue heavens, He left God’s shekinah glory—that visible manifestation of God’s presence—on earth. We Christians became His living temples, the new Holy of Holies (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19).
People had only to look at Jesus to see what God is like. People today should only have to look at us to see what Jesus is like. For better or worse, they’ll draw conclusions about Christ from what they see in us. If we fail the grace test, we fail to be Christlike. If we fail the truth test, we fail to be Christlike. If we pass both tests, we’re like Jesus.
A grace-starved, truth-starved world needs Jesus, full of grace and truth.
So what does this hungry world see when it looks at us?
Browse more related articles and resources, and see Randy’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox, and his devotional Beautiful and Scandalous: How God's Grace Changes Everything.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.