I love traveling to the UK. For a while I did so for business several times a year as one of my former companies had an office about an hour north of London. One of my favorite things about the daily living during my travels was experiencing the “English” language. Hearing “Mind the gap, please. Mind the gap,” while trying to board the “Tube” (subway) was a sublime but caution-invoking occurrence. But minding a gap has other intuitive significance. I awoke to it a little this week … for reasons that will make sense shortly.
Over the past several months, we’ve watched the development of our oldest child through the luge chute that is early adulthood. An assortment of unwise and wise choices in reaction to the stimuli – real and perceived – of social pressures, acceptance, identity, and comfort in one’s skin harken back to my years going through that same gauntlet.
When I look back on my years, as I’ve said before, I wish that God long ago would have deleted the video in my head of the things I did, said and thought. Mostly I say that for my benefit. Even though the Bible assures us that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, NKJV), I have to admit that there remains a feeling of indignity I’ll perhaps never ditch so long as I live and recall those discrete events. I did some really perverse, stupid things … most of the time I danced on a razor’s edge and for some reason, God allowed me to avert critical injury.
But my actions were sinful. They emphatically flouted the Creator’s standard for not just my behavior, but also for my wellbeing, and my fellowship with Him. That’s what sin is … not just what you or I might say is bad or unbecoming … it’s falling short of GOD’S standard of holiness. It damages our fellowship with Him. Ultimately WE lose when we sin. Anything not holy – which seems sometimes to be everything I do, certainly it was in my younger years – is sinful. The Bible says that my compensation for such deportment is eternal separation from God. However … God minded the gap for us.
As I read this week through Leviticus 1 – 27 and Numbers 1 – 7, I peered into long-familiar passages with a refreshed perspective because of how my eyesight has been keenly sharpened in this season. We read through these verses and see the incalculable detail of the construction of the tabernacle, the holy place, the holy of holies and all the accouterments therein. The requirements to experience God’s presence were profound … as we’d expect based on the fact that we’re talking about the Creator of the universe here.
We’re also reminded about the specificity of the conduct of the various offerings, which is summarized in part in Leviticus 9:1-4 …
After the ordination ceremony, on the eighth day, Moses called together Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, “Take a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defects, and present them to the Lord. Then tell the Israelites, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, and take a calf and a lamb, both a year old and without defects, for a burnt offering. Also take a bull and a ram for a peace offering and flour moistened with olive oil for a grain offering. Present all these offerings to the Lord because the Lord will appear to you today.’”
Reading through these passages and the four verses above can lead us to think that we have to construct, organize, orchestrate, sacrifice … do, do, do, do, do … in order to experience God’s presence, receive God’s forgiveness, restore God’s fellowship, etc. We can assume it’s solely upon us to mind the gap. True, this is inherently what the Israelites had to go through, until Jesus came to fulfill, not abolish all the requirements (paraphrased from Matthew 5:17).
With that, we have to think more fully through what do we need to do in order to prepare for the Lord to appear to us? The answer: Not a thing. He’s just waiting for us to receive Him. He wants to have a relationship with us and wants us to be in the proper spiritual mindset, but that isn’t a predicate requirement to have His presence.
That’s how much He loves us and why Jesus’s sacrifice was so powerful and merciful. It’s over and done. The steps weren’t removed. The requirements weren’t eliminated. The sacrifices weren’t modified. They were completed in full by Jesus, because God realized we’d never be able to uphold the standards.
I guess I’ve just been struck and have been reflecting on the colossal love Jesus showed in covering what was an infinite distance between His perfect holiness and my filthiness. When I recognize that He didn’t just excuse what I did, He actually allow the extremity of the penalty to be exacted … just on Himself and not on me … I can’t help but marvel. He didn’t just mind the gap, He closed it entirely.
Don’t misconstrue, I never murdered or molested or raped anyone … acts in the extreme most people associate with “sin” and “perversity” … but in the framework of a holy God my lies, partying, and general depravity measured up equivalently. And yet, Jesus stands before us, arms outstretched, ready to receive, embrace, and carry us when necessary, looking at us not as if to ask, “what have you done for me lately?” but rather to express in love, “do you know all that I did for you and how much it pleased me to do so?”
My prayer for you and me this week is that we’ll just stop and reflect a little. If you’re a Christian, reflect on the gaps God minded for you through Jesus and just position yourself with a heart of gratitude. It’s warranted. If you’re not (yet) a Christian, please consider the gap that exists between you and your Creator. Not to beat yourself over the head, but simply to observe, as you would when boarding the Tube, the gap. In other words, mind the gap, but recognize that Jesus closed it for you (for us) if you’re just willing to accept it. Mind the gap, please. Mind the gap.
Soli Deo gloria,