closing the gap | John 7.19-20
19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” John 7.19-20 | ESV
But can I ask you a question – you love Moses, and Moses gave you the law, and yet you regularly trash the law by not doing what it says. What’s up with all these ‘wanted: dead or alive’ posters with my name on them?” The crowd shot back, feigning ignorance, “What posters? Who wants you dead? What are you talking about? Are you crazy or just demonic? Who wants to kill you?” MAV
It’s a classic scenario – and we like to imagine it applies to everyone but to ourselves: reverently holding the Bible in one hand while totally defying it with the other.
This scenario is especially effective if we can, when so trashing it, actually see such trashing as fidelity to it or to the greater good envisioned by it. We hold to the law of love, painting it with broad strokes on our walls, but then graffiti over it with black streaks of ugliness we insist is not only a legitimate expression of love but it’s ultimate outcome. And so we end up killing people in love for Christ’s sake in an ever widening gap between what we say and the reality that continues to flow from our lives. Jesus here points to this wide gap, while they deny the problem, topping off that denial with insult.
Paul chimes in, pointing to the chasm of our hypocrisy in his classic diagnosis in Romans (Message style):
If you’re brought up Jewish, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away. Romans 2:14-24 | Message
Yes, this surely is an “old problem that isn’t going to go away.” But, as we often say, to see the old problem and how the gap between word and walk may be widening in my own life is perhaps to be ready for the solution that’s been standing right in front of us the whole time.
How is wide is the “gap” in your own life between your walk and talk? Where have you been seeing that gap widening? Where is it shrinking?
Abba, wake me up to the existing gaps in my life between what I say and what I do. I know those gaps are there. Give me the courage to see them – and the confidence that each gap can, in fact, become a bridge of grace in your hands. Through Jesus.