Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Part one: Changes That Heal---Grace and Truth.

Welcome to Part one of Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud.

Before Dr. Cloud gets into the four aspects of the personality of God: Bonding with others, separating from others, sorting out issues of good and bad, and taking charge as an adult he has us look at two major qualities of God's character---qualities that, as Cloud notes " will help us undertake our journey with vigor."

Part one deals with three ingredients that we need to have present in our lives in order for real growth to take place: (1) grace, (2) truth, and (3) time.

Today's blog will cover grace and truth since they can't be separated and must remain together so that good emotional health can take root and grow. I was struck with the importance and the emphasis that Dr. Cloud put on these two ingredients not being separated, and you will discover why grace and truth must be in balance in our lives by the end of this post, good stuff!

  Part one starts out telling the story of an alien named Beezy whose planet was bored, so they decided they would create a god. So a trip was taken to Planet Earth. Dozens of churches and religious institutions were visited covertly and copious notes were taken.  Beezy came back to report that not one but two gods were found. The name of the first god (or goddess) was Grace. She talked a lot about love. “Get along. Be nice.”  “If you can’t be good, I’ll forgive you anyway.”  Beezy was confused by this god.  “I’m not sure what she would forgive, since they didn’t seem to have any rules anyway.” However, Beezy liked the things the followers of Grace did.  Things like feeding poor people and visiting prisoners in jail.  But the followers of Grace seemed lost; doing the same bad things over and over and never seeming to know where they were going.
 Then there’s the other god, and his name is Truth. Just as mean as Grace is nice.  This god kept telling the people all kinds of things about themselves that made them feel bad, and his followers did the same thing.  But there’s a good side to Truth. “He campaigns against some very nasty enemies such as lying, cheating, adultery, abortion, and drunkenness.  He’s like a big religious street sweeper sweeping away all his enemies.  As for the smiles you see on the followers of Grace—forget it.  All Truth’s followers do is scowl and scream.”  Needless to say, after hearing the report, Beezy’s planet decided that to alleviate their boredom they would build an amusement park instead. But Beezy had one last suggestion. "We have all this wonderful technology for mixing repelling elements, like oil and water, he said. "How about if we try mixing Grace and Truth?"

  Henry Cloud uses this story to illustrate two aspects of our God’s character. Our God is a God "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

Grace then is the first ingredient that Dr. Cloud lists that is necessary for growing up in the image of God. Grace is defined as (and I love this definition), unbroken, uninterrupted, unearned, accepting relationship.

The question is asked, "have you ever been in a relationship where you can be exactly who your are? Where you don't have to hide your thoughts and feelings; you don't need to perform; you don not need to do anything but be loved."

Pay attention here---Grace then is the relational aspect of God's character. We need to know that God accepts us without us doing anything at all, in fact, the only thing that we can do is simply receive His grace, if we try to earn God's grace through effort and doing; then we have distorted the image of God in our lives, and it will lead us to become performance driven and legalistic, unsatisfied and unhappy.

In the story of Beezy there was one problem with those who worshiped Grace: they heard very little truth and were devoid of direction for their lives---in fact they are described as being lost.

This is where truth comes in.

Truth is the second ingredient necessary for growing up in the image of God. Dr. Cloud describes truth as " what is real; how things really are."

Cloud notes, " just as grace is the relational aspect of God's character, truth is the structural aspect of his character."

Truth without grace is judgment. Grace without truth leaves us lost  and without any boundaries.

I hope now you see why grace and truth must stay together; they are the healing combination for they deal with the greatest barrier to growth: which is guilt. Think of the consequences that guilt and shame has brought to countless people; the wrecked marriages, suicides, and all the needless pain and suffering.

Work to better understand God's grace to you, and seek to make truth a core value in your life---but always allow these two principle to work together in your life.

Next post we will look at the third ingredient for growth---TIME.

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