Wednesday, September 26, 2012

mind the gap

     Just before this Summer’s Olympic Games in London , I was fortunate to have been a part of a team from Parkway that went to partner with a sister church in the city of Hounslow, which is about twenty miles outside of Central London.  It was a wonderful experience that grew me, stretched me, blessed me, and humbled me.  I think that would be an accurate summation for the rest of the team as well on our trip across “the big pond”.  While in London, we traveled by way of the “Underground” transit and as the trains would approach there would be a message as the doors were about to open which was, “Mind the Gap”.  A simple notice to be careful of the gaps in-between the platform and the train car.  "Mind the Gap" is such a common saying rooted into the London lingo that you can find the phrase displayed on t-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, etc.
      Several times as I boarded a passenger car, I would look down at this gap where I noticed a fairly deep chasm and if I didn’t “mind” and pay attention to my steps I would have surely done damage to my leg, at minimum, if not more.  As the team wrapped up our time in England and came back to the states, I have since then though of that phrase “mind the gap”.  It’s not that I take the underground to work or even ride a train through the period of the week, but I am reminded of the gap that is before me every time I take a step; it is the gap of temptation and the damage of sin that has the opportunity to bring hurt and pain into my life with every decision I make.
       In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul encouraged the saints there to “mind the gap” and be careful where they stepped and how they walked; “ imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love” (5:1-2).  Moving ahead in chapter 5:15-21 Paul called again for these same saints in Ephesus to “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people, but as wise…”  not long ago I was eating dinner with an aunt and uncle of mine and as my aunt cleared the table my uncle and I were just “chit-chatting” about different things, the future, the present, and the past.  In that I made the statement that life is about living, learning, and gaining some wisdom along the way.  Life is about living and learning, but it is useless in the long run if you gain no wisdom to direct your future actions, to learn from the past and mind the gaps of life for the present and for the future.
       Paul also states in v15 that these saints were to be about, “making the most of their time, because the days are evil”.  And in v17 he called for them to “not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is”.  In this verse, I believe Paul gives good and solid advice for Christians to “mind the gap”.
1. making the most of your time—What do we as Christians spend the majority of our efforts and energy doing and are we good managers of our time?  Do you spend more time doing things that have no eternal value, that are not intently directed at growing God’s kingdom?  We live in difficult times and dark days, but in them we are called to be salt and light in the communities in which we live (Matt.5:13-16).  And beyond that every Christians has been given the ministry of reconciliation as we tell people about the love of God through Jesus Christ(2 Cor.5:18-20).  It concerns and disappoints  me when I see Christians who will not get up and drive 5 miles to church on a Sunday, but will have a vehicle loaded for bare and ready to drive over 100 miles for a football game.  There is something wrong when men place more praise and interest in man than in God.  (As a side note, what would church services look like if Christians approached Sunday bible study and worship with the same enthusiasm as they have for the big game on Saturday?)
2. Understand what the Lord’s will is—This is a subject that takes wisdom not foolishness.  So how do we come to understand what the Lord’s will is?  The Lord has revealed His will to man through His word (the Bible) and with that it is crucial and necessary that considerable time is spent in that word to receive a word from God.  It is as we see to better understand His will that we pray to Him that His Spirit would give clarity and direction in our understanding of it.  Along with reading God’s word and prayer there is another way that compliments our understanding of God’s will for our lives; it is the church.  The church is the very body that has been birthed by Christ and stands firmly on His righteous work on our behalf to the glory of the Father.  It is the church, as a people, who are able to encourage and edify one another to seek after and remain in the Lord’s will.  It is the church, as a facility, which allows believers to come together corporately to praise, worship, and glorify God as we seek His will for our lives both individually and corporately.  If we, like the disciples, desire that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt.6:10), may we seek to understand His will as much as we desire it to be.
As we “mind the gaps” of life and this world may we make the most of our time and seek to understand what the Lord’s will is as we put Him and His ways first (Prov. 3:5-6)

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