Close the Gap

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Who is the real you? Yesterday the political world focused on some past words of one of the candidates. In a video clip that played widely, he made statements that were cringe-worthy about crime and race, his words seeming to reveal some inner thoughts that do not match his public rhetoric. Watching the furor over this, I felt humility because I know there are times when my feelings in the moment drag me towards actions that are inconsistent with my beliefs. For example, I accept Jesus’ call to live lovingly and to forgive. However, were you to mention a few names of people who have done hurtful things to me, my first thought is not to be loving or forgiving. That gap between what I believe and how I act needs confession, grace, and change!

We all have similar gaps, don’t we? For some, they are great chasms of hypocrisy resembling the Grand Canyon. For others, they are there, but smaller, like cracks in the sidewalk. Regardless, they must be acknowledged and confessed. If we allow hypocrisy to go unchallenged in our heart, it will grow. We must never attempt to conceal the gap – big or small – with religious talk. Jesus reserved His most scathing remarks for religious leaders who used pious talk to conceal sin-filled hearts! He told them – “You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel. You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness.” (Matthew 23:24-25, CEV)

 Hypocrisy offends God. It short-circuits our experience of God’s grace. He desires to forgive us and His Spirit will change us from the inside out but not if we are self-deceived, unwilling to get honest with Him. Simplicity, a singleness of heart and mind that is Christ-centered, makes us beautiful, stable, and people who know inner peace. James reminds us that “a double minded man – unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8, KJV) The wisdom of the Word says “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Proverbs 11:3, NIV)

Do you practice the discipline of Simplicity – aiming to be no more and no less than the person God desires?  Is your life – each part – surrendered to Him so that the Spirit can work to make you the same – inside and out –  your thoughts, words, and actions aligned. Oh yes, we are all works in progress. The greatest self-deception is that which insists we have ‘arrived’ spiritually, that we have achieved a kind of perfection. No, I haven’t nor have you.

There is a lesson in grace to be found in the life of King David. He was a flawed man, one who sinned grievously. Yet, God loved him. Why? Because when his sin was pointed out to him, when his hypocrisy was challenged, he cried out: “You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. … God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.” (Psalm 51:4-5,10, The Message) Confession heals us when it is deep, true, and desires change.

Are you living a double life? How about that gap between what you profess and what you possess? Are you allowing the Spirit to lead you to close it, humbly following His lead, listening to His voice? Are you in close fellowship with other Christians who love you to wholeness?

Choose to practice the discipline of simplicity – saying only what is true, avoiding exaggeration, refusing to hide behind an image.

Here is a word from the Word.  “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:8-10, NIV)  Guilt and shame is not His desire for you. There is restoration and reconciliation, so kneel before the One who “became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God.”

Take a couple of minutes to listen to the prayer-song below. Fernando Ortega sings words that inspire, that invite the change that brings us peace.

_________________

Jesus, You Are My Life

You are my life,
O precious Christ!
You are to me
The pearl of greatest price.
My love for You will never die.
Jesus You are my life!

 I come to You.
I run to You.
There’s no greater joy
Than knowing You.

 O holy fire, Love’s purest light!
Burn all desires ‘till
You are my one delight.
My love for You will never die.
Jesus You are my life!

 O conquering King,
Conquer my heart!
And make of me a pleasing gift to God.
My love for You will never die.
Jesus You are my life! 

Jesus You are my life!

Jesus You Are My Life- Steve Fry © 1994 Maranatha Praise, Inc. (Admin. by Maranatha! Music) Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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