A one-winged bird will not fly straight. In fact, it probably will not fly at all. The bird needs both wings to soar and the imagery is applicable to us. The Bible is full of tensions (two wings) that help keep us air born in our faith. For example:
- If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, learn to be a servant of all.
- We are saved by grace alone and not by works, yet our faith is proven by our works.
- God is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe yet we are told to act in certain ways and given a choice to obey or not.
- God knows all things yet we are told to pray in order to make a difference.
- We are told to love the sinner yet hate the sin.
- The devil is a defeated foe yet we are told to resist and overcome him.
- We are free in Christ yet we limit our freedom for the sake of love.
Those seven are enough to make my point and I am sure you can think of many more. In fact, I found one today during my reading time:
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12
Interesting. One wing that is often exalted is love, grace and freedom in Christ. We are saved by grace, live in grace, and are under grace, God is love, we are free from guilt, and any mention of obedience, works, or human effort invites a verbal beating. Those on the other side (wing) shout, “Lawlessness” as the danger of over emphasis on grace and God’s love. They continue, “What about obedience, grieving the Holy Spirit, holiness, and overcoming temptation and sin?” Picking either wing at the expense of the other will result in erratic flight patterns.
Over the last 39 years or so, I have observed many that have shouted, “grace, I’m free in Christ!” They are of course correct. However, many times this revelation has resulted in sinful excesses because of that truth. We are warned by Peter:
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16
Jesus said that because of lawlessness love would grow cold. Interesting. Most people that use grace as a cover for all manner of sin do end up despising anyone that asks for deference or holiness. Perhaps Jesus was right after all. Lawlessness eventually turns love cold.
On the other wing, those that go down the path of law, endless rules and man-made standards of holiness will end up despising everyone that disagrees with them. Sounds like Pharisee thinking to me and Jesus never accused those guys of demonstrating love.
If love is our calling card to the world, and it is, we must learn how to fly with both wings intact. We need grace without lawlessness and obedience without bondage. In other words, we need to be people who know and obey all of the Scriptures, and not just our favorite doctrines.