Closing the Gaps
If our commitments match our convictions, we are probably doing pretty well in life. There are a lot of associated discussions that could take place relating to objectives and outcomes, goals and values. Those are pretty important questions that we all have to ask ourselves and that we will undoubtedly answer by the way that we live.
Values & Daily Living
Most people do not have much difficulty defining their values, but they do have a struggle analyzing the gap between those values and the way they actually live. It is even harder to analyze the reasons for the gap. Perhaps the hardest part of all is doing something about closing the gap.
Those listening to what Jesus said realized it was different because He advocated it with authority (Matthew 7:29). In Matthew 7 He brought up at least six points relating to how behavior and beliefs must always connect.
1. The best place to start in closing the gap between theoretical Christianity and real Christianity is to first look at yourself (vv. 1-6). Get on the fast track to a solution by being accountable and examining yourself first.
2. Don’t wait for something good to happen (vv. 7-12). You may be looking for an answer but it is likely that while you are waiting you will discover it by making a difference right where you are if you get active.
3. Salvation is an invitation to get productive (vv. 13-14). In many parts of Asia there was a shortage of available land, so rice farmers had to become smarter, better managers of their time and make better choices. Most rice paddies are about the size of a bedroom, but the yield is incredible. That is the way our salvation should be.
4. We are known by what we produce, not by what we pronounce (vv. 15-20). Those that want to lead a worthwhile life will find that internal productivity and external productivity are linked.
5. Doing counts (vv. 21-23). What we do identifies us. The internal satisfaction for doing what is of the greatest benefit to others has many rewards. Focusing only on one’s self will not result in the type of life that leaves one satisfied and fulfilled.
6. Hearing (intelligently) and doing (practically) are the ways to close the gap between our values and our daily living. Those that hear and don’t do aren’t going to last very long (vv. 26-27).
Single Purpose, Two Parts
In Psalm 27, the writer says it all boils down to one ultimate thing that is to be desired and achieved (v. 4). Everything that he does, everything that he values is going to be centered on this one goal: to dwell in the house of the Lord all his life. Since it is that one thing that he desires, he is going to focus all of his energies, values and goals on achieving it. He notes two things that he must do to bring it about; to close the gap.
1. “Behold” means to contemplate. John 1:14 says, “We beheld His glory, full of grace and truth.” When we really behold Christ we come to trust Him in all things; we close the gap between being persuaded (simple faith) and being in full agreement (intermediary faith).
2. To close the gap between his stated ideal and what is real the Psalmist says he must “inquire.” The word inquire suggests a type of breaking forth to a better understanding. It is living our life with honor, to endure and to be more like Christ in inner character and outward conduct.
True “beholding” results in true inquiry. Really contemplating truth always results in wanting to know more of the truth. Beholding is always followed by inquiring. It is vital to close the gap between our profession of belief and our practice because other people will take note. What they behold of Him in us should lead them to inquire further.
Dr. M. Hildon Guy is the President of the University of Christian Studies and Seminary in Eagle River, Alaska. He also serves as a Board Member for Love INC of Eagle River.