Closing the Gap

Erik Cooper —  September 9, 2009 — 5 Comments

I’m not sure who this last series of posts are really for – one of you out there actually taking the time to read them, or me the guy writing.  Perhaps this is just part of my own personal therapy.  But until this topic gets out of my system, we’ll continue to unpack it in this forum.  Love to hear your thoughts and personal stories.

I’ve been following Christ for a long time.  In fact, in my 35 years of life on this earth, I don’t remember one day I would have said I was “away from God.”  And for the past decade I’ve pursued Him passionately:  reading, listening, learning, praying, discussing, growing.  Some would even consider me a “professional Christian” (after all, that’s what pastors are, right?  We get paid to follow Jesus).

But after all these years, I’m noticing an interesting phenomena.  Knowledge is not my friend (or at least it initially seems that way on the surface).  The more I learn, the more I dig, the more I uncover about God, the more overwhelmed I become at the complete disaster that I am.  Knowledge has simply illuminated my failure, my innate inability to be Godly.

But if you’re like me, your gut reaction to this revelation may be as follows:

The more you learn, the more you realize the distance between where you are and where you should be.  That realization instinctively leads to immense effort to close the gap.  But the harder you try, the more you fail, and the more you fail, the more frustrated, fearful, or depressed you become.  And honestly, that’s where a lot of us live our lives each and every day (even many of us who have known Christ or been in and around the truth of the Gospel our entire lives fall victim).

So here’s where I am personally (and perhaps I should be embarrassed to say this as a life-long Christian, and a full-time pastor at that).  I’m going back to the basics.  Don’t let knowledge and revelation lead you towards effort, let it drive you to repentance.

Effort is your broken, sinful, human attempt to close the un-closable gap.  Repentance is your submission to the only true Gap Closer.  Effort leads to consistent frustration and failure.  Repentance allows the supernatural life of Christ to ignite inside of you.  Effort leads to  religion.  Repentance leads to Jesus.

5 responses to Closing the Gap

  1. 🙂 Repentance is such a relief. I often feel that for me, it’s a big deal. But to God, I think it may be not that big of a deal. I mean, it was certainly enough of an issue for Him to come to Earth so He could die and settle it all and make things right…so I’m not being sacreligious or anything in my attitude. It is important! I think it is important to God so He can show us what’s next. Like , okay! Now here is what I want to show you that I couldn’t show you with all of that garbage taking up the space you need to receive the great things I have for you…

    And isn’t He such a gentleman! When the Holy Spirit convicts, it is never in an “you suck” kind of way, even if you do suck by logical assessment. Because God never thinks of us in the way we think of ourselves. He just doesn’t. So it is always in beautiful grace that He leads us to repent so we can be healed and free and righteous. In right standing with Him.

    He’s amazing. His faithfulness provides security. Even when the horrible awareness you spoke of hits me, and I need to back away for a sec or several to deal, He is there. And His commitment to us is worthy of praise. I mean really, WOW.

  2. You’re spot on about the repentance thing, Erik. Unfortunately that’s a term that’s nearly become extinct in our western churches … to our detriment and demise. I believe Paul expressed it well in Galatians 3:24 where he wrote, “Therefore [knowledge of] the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (NAS). The purpose of the Law is to make us aware that we fall short of God’s standard and need to repent and trust in Christ and His sacrifice.

    As for the effort piece, I see this as a “both/and” proposition as opposed to “either/or”. My effort – empowered by the Holy Spirit – is definitely involved. Spirit motivated self-control and self-discipline is essential. Paul says it this way in Philippians 3:12-16. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on [other translations say “strive”] to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (NIV).

    I love Paul’s sense of urgency and resoluteness as he puts forth full effort in his pursuit of Christ and his service for Christ (and, to your point, not religion).

    Lastly, I see a significant point in the last portion of that text. “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Simply put, God holds us accountable for the knowledge we have acquired. Does that make knowledge a bad thing? No, but it does raise the bar for us!

  3. Yep, that would be a good way to say it. Keep stimulating us to think and apply the Word.

  4. On her 80th birthday, I asked my friend Gloria what she felt to be the primary key to being ‘one who overcomes’. Sweetie, she replied, live a life of repentance, simply live a life of repentance.

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