Aug 28, 2009
“Do I really believe this? Is this actually true?”
I have a distinct, though distant, memory of my preaching instructor speaking to our class of “watch-us-change-the-world” aspiring communicators. He told us that there would be places in the Bible that, as they were explained and taught, would elicit an outward nod of agreement from our audience. But on the inside, whether actively or passively, the above questions would be the unspoken and deeply real conversation. My naïve thought back then was a simplistic, “Well, it’s in the Bible, so it must be true, so just believe it.” I was ever so helpful, wasn’t I?
I think those first questions really do come to the forefront when we read Jesus’ invitation to prayer from Matthew 7. Ask, seek, knock- it will be given. There you have it. Simple, right? Except that it doesn’t seem to actually work that way, does it?
How many times have you banged your fist on heaven’s door, crying out for help that never seemed to come? How many of your prayers felt unheard, ignored, or denied? And how often have you heard that you should just pray harder? There’s a gap here, and it’s a real one. It’s the gap between what Jesus seems to be promising and what we actually experience. And we want to believe Jesus because He’s right on so many other things and we feel badly because we must be doing it wrong somehow. But if we ignore this gap or pretend it isn’t there, something dangerous happens to our faith. We start to mouth the words we say we believe with less and less conviction. Or worse- we’ll just lower our view of prayer and ultimately of God. “Maybe prayer works for some people, I’m just not one.” “Maybe God did some amazing stuff back then, just not so much these days.” Just lower our expectations, settle for whatever comes our way, and get along the best we can.
The first thing we need to do with this gap, in my opinion, is to admit that it’s there. We’re not entirely sure what to do with it, but there it is. So let’s start at that point. And here’s the good news: God already knows about our “gap” and He isn’t afraid. In fact, He’ll meet us there.
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