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04 Apr '13

Minding the gap between truth we believe and how we live

Posted by T.J. Addington in authenticity, spiritual transformation

Paul speaks often of "authentic" or "sincere" faith. Why does he use these adjectives in describing our faith? He does so because there is often a significant gap between what we say we believe and how we actually live.

Those who have traveled much have met a British woman who seems to have something of a monopoly in speaking to us on public subways. Perhaps the most often heard reminder from this woman as train doors open is "Please mind the gap." The gap is the space between the train floor and the station floor.

Paul is encouraging us to mind the gap between what we profess to believe and how we actually live in speaking of authentic faith. I believe that closing that gap is one of the ongoing disciplines and challenges of following Jesus. The smaller the gap, the more authentic our faith is. The larger the gap, the less authentic our faith.

Paul's advice to his protege, Timothy, was to "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely" (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Our life and our doctrine are integrally connected. Fine doctrine means nothing when it is not connected to a life that lives that doctrine out.

Large segments of evangelicalism have substituted knowledge of God for life with God where our life practices mirror our theological understanding. To the extent that what we know or believe to be true does not match our daily lives there is a gap and it is this gap that must be minded. It is then that our lives actually mirror Jesus and lives that mirror Jesus draw people to Him. 

This is not about legalism. It is about authentic living where we live with Jesus and bring our practices and thinking into conformity with His practices and thinking. The practical question that deserves thoughtful consideration is "where is there a gap between the life and practices of Jesus and what we are taught in Scripture with my own life?" And what am I actively doing through the power of the Holy Spirit to mind the gap?