A skeptical friend once asked me, “If the gospel is supernatural, as you say, then why doesn’t it seem to make more of a difference in the lives of so many who claim to believe it?”
That’s a great question and not just for skeptics. Because the gap between what Christians claim is true about themselves and what we often see when we look in the mirror—that gap is real.
Melissa knows it and John Newton knew it. And I’m writing this book because I’ll tell you a secret. In my job I’ve learned there are a lot of people out there who feel alone and afraid, who feel like a fraud.
Do you feel the gap? Having the courage to recognize it and admit it is the first step in this gap being closed. You must mind the gap.
But it’s certainly possible to ignore, or not be bothered by, the gap. I’ll never forget the first sermon I ever preached. As I stood at the door afterwards greeting people on their way out, one older man patted me on the shoulder like I was a young cub scout and said, “Well, that was a nice sermon. Now, back to the real world.”
If, like that man, you never try to connect the truths of God to your everyday life; if you construct a wall to divide the sacred “nice sermons” from the secular “real world”; if you keep Jesus and his authority safely tucked away in heaven where he can’t threaten your way of doing things, then this gap won’t concern you. It won’t even occur to you that it should.
Neither will this gap concern you if you believe that the gospel means you have a ticket to heaven when you die and that grace means you don’t need to strive to obey Christ while you live. If you believe “It is finished” means there’s nothing then left for you to do; if you consider Jesus’ call to discipleship to be optional, reserved for the cloistered few or super-committed, then you won’t be bothered by the gap either.
And sadly, many Christians have lived with this gap for so long that they no longer mind it. Ernest Hemingway ends his novel The Sun Also Rises with the line, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” And isn’t that how many of us feel, in the quiet of our hearts, about these grand, high promises in the Bible: “Rivers of living water,” or, “Whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst” (John 7:37; 4:14)? Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so? Now, back to the real world.