Apr 28, 2010

The Gap Between Our Experience and the Claims of God

I've been listening to Ravi Zacharias' series called Mind the Gap. In this series, Ravi is exploring the gap demonstrated so often when what we expect from God is not what He provides. When we think: Why can't God act according to our logic when, after all, He calls us "to reason together?" There is a gap between our experience and the claim & the calling of God..... And there is a bridge to cross this gap. Here are my notes from Ravi's series:
There are basically 3 gaps, he says, that feed this incongruence.
Gap #1. When knowledge is not in keeping with reality. When what it is we think we know doesn't align with what we are seeing on the outside.

3 reasons for this particular gap:
Because of our own finitude. We just have that limitation, we long to break beyond these barriers of knowledge. We read, study, learn, engage, interact and we learn there is more and more that we don't know.
Because of our propensity to believe certain things because that is what we want to believe. Luke 7:31-33 Jesus was telling the Pharisees He couldn't win them over, nothing He or His disciples could do would satisfy what they wanted.
Because of the power of deception. The enemy of your soul uses our fatigue, our work, success, blessings, friendships, etc.
In C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters Screwtape teaches his nephew how to
seduce those who are getting closer to God, he says "Work on their horror of
the same old thing."
People get tired of the same old thing and
the devil uses that to derail them. Screwtape was teaching him
"Don't let them stop at being merely Christian, make it Christianity AND
.... And culture or ....and faith healing or ....and new psychology, substitute for the faith some fashion with a Christian coloring. We can't be content with the richness and grandeur of the age old message; we want it to be Christianity plus something. This is a dangerous seduction which we've swallowed hook, line and sinker. (Screwtape, by the way, used food. He took gluttony and twisted it into a demand for novelty.)
Diminish pleasure while increasing desire.
Nonsense in the intellect will reinforce corruption of the will.
You can't deny the increase in nonsense in our society and laws.
Example: you can't justify abortion, but the intellect tries.
Gap #2. When hopes become dashed with disappointment. The sense of dismay when things aren't the way we thought they were supposed to be. The problem is not Jesus' inability to perform the miracle. When your desires are being shattered and you say "why did this happen?" There is a gap and you say "Oh God, fill this gap." In the first gap, we don't have the knowledge. But in this gap, we don't understand the purposes of God.

Gap #3. When presence is suppressed by preoccupation. He raised you in America and you are not far from Him. He raised me in India and I am not far from Him. Sometimes His presence is suppressed by preoccupation. The heresy of Here-ness and the heresy of There-ness.
Thereness: Adam. God is out there, but not here. Adam hid from God.
Hereness: Cain. God is here, but not there, so I'm gonna go out from the presence of the Lord.
David found out a long time after that, you can't do that. Psalms 139:7-17 "where can I go from your presence...?" Paul knew it. Acts 17:24-28. We forget that He is here. When you look back, you see that He was there during the worst of your troubles, He was there guiding your life even before you knew Him. His presence is nearer to you than you can ever imagine. From the very womb He put you in, from the ethnicity that He gave you. Sometimes you sense Him halfway through a tragedy. Sometimes He comes through at the very end.
Simplicity breaks into sublimity: At the end of the day, it's not understanding and apologetics that satisfies the heart. It's a touch, a simple note, a voice on the phone, a gift, a simple little thing that says "I love you and you mean an awful lot to me." That's the simplicity combined with sublimity that Jesus demonstrated. The disciples knew so much, but they had forgotten what it all meant. Jesus bridged the gap; He brings the coherence, He binds the soul to the body when He takes a piece of bread and eats it. Resurrecting the reality that the physicality is important, the spirituality is important and only He knows how to bring the two together.
People try to put life together with many things: power, money, pleasure, knowledge, religion, many things. Nobody can put it together like Jesus Christ.
Naturalism settles for the theory of chaos. Jesus offers coherence.
Islam talks of a law to compassion, but Jesus went to the cross.
Hinduism talks of karma and the death of morality. It is Jesus who offers forgiveness and paid the price for sin.
Buddhism talks of the eradication of desire, Jesus offers to fill those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
The gap is not in Him, it is in us. Mind the gap. Simplicity and sublimity will bridge it when knowledge doesn't seem to coalesce with reality, when hopes are dashed by disappointment and finally, as you come to the recognition that your busyness can dull His presence. He is the God of the gaps in distinction to the others who create the gaps, the problem is not in Him, it is in us.

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