Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mind the Gap #2

  There is nothing as unnerving as receiving the prompting from the Holy Ghost that you must "mind the gap". This phrase comes from London where passengers are cautioned about dangers related to the underground subway system. 
   "There is also a sign to remind people that there is danger--a gap between the train and the station platform. The sign says, "Mind the Gap." This reminds people not to let their foot get caught in the gap and not to drop anything in the gap because it will go under the train and be lost. The caution sign is needed and warns people of a very real danger. In order to be safe, people must "mind the gap." Sister Barbara Thompson 
  This is such a great metaphor for the gap between what we say we believe and what we do.
"We can't give people what we don't have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be." Brene Brown
  Rather than bore you with the gaps in my own spiritual life, let me pick on a man from the New Testament whose story has been read for countless years.

  Peter was an apostle who walked with Jesus for most of his ministry. He was present at mind-blowing events where he saw the power of God manifest in Jesus Christ. Recorded by Luke, written down for all mankind to see are some of his gaps between what he said and what he actually did.
  Luke 22:55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
  How Peter must have wept to look back on his weaknesses and fears.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest tho me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
  Would he ever be able to close the gap?
  Acts 4:13 "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
  Yes, there came a time shortly after the ascension of Christ when Peter stood to testify without the fear he had before.
  Acts 4:18 "And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
   Peter is an example of the power that a congregation receives when their leader closes the gap.
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
  In contrast, just a chapter later the story of Ananias and Sapphira's is told. They must have joined this congregation by choice and covenant, but their gap was sizable.
  Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
  I puzzle how immediate the consequences were of not "minding the gap". Why was Peter given space to grow and change but not this couple? I think the application here has to do with spiritual death.
  "We disengage when we are not minding the gap. It is a way to protect ourselves from vulnerability, shame, and feeling lost without purpose." Brene Brown
  And when we disengage we do things that can damage our spiritual lives. The story does not tell us all about Ananias and his wife, but it reveals their rationalization of the truth. It shows a disconnect to the people who they had alliance with. 
  "Spiritual connection is not built on compliance, it's the product of love, belonging and vulnerability." Brene Brown
 How did Peter mind the gap? He focused on the Savior, Jesus Christ. He took the Holy Ghost as his guide. He was humble in his need to be connected to his Savior. He walked the path of discipleship the best he could and the final gap was closed with the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

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