Getting to Know God

The God Gap

by Pastor Joseph Wheat

What is your spiritual life like? What is it really about? Some people give a quick, worked-through answer to the question. Sometimes their answer is that they have no spiritual life. Others don’t really know, but they wonder about this whole subject. They know spirituality has something to do with connecting with God, who created them. And they know that it has something to do with who they actually are – and what is needed to make that connection. And those are very good instincts!

Spirituality is about God

So let me ask you – what is God like? You might start by saying He’s big! Or He’s all-powerful. Or He’s always loving. Or He’s able to be everywhere at one time – so there’s no place where God isn’t. You might say He’s always gracious and kind. And He’s holy, morally perfect, with no stain of selfishness or sin. And this list is just a start – God is all that and more.

So that leaves us with the question of who we are in relation to God. We realize that we are very different from God in important ways. We are not all-powerful, always loving, everywhere at once, always gracious and kind and we are certainly not morally perfect – with no stain of selfishness or sin!

The God Gap

We are fundamentally incompatible with God. And the fact that we are selfish and sinful cuts us off from a real relationship with Him because He is holy. That leaves us with what I call the “God gap.”

What we call religion is simply our attempt at dealing with that gap. What can close the insurmountable gap and connect us with God? Different religions are there to tell us how to close the gap. The various instructions of different religions tell us how to close the gap. And they all claim to have come from God Himself.

Each of these religions suggest outcomes. For instance, they might say we can strip away selfishness through meditation, or through giving to the poor (a great thing to do!). They suggest we can combat ignorance through religious instruction in their holy books, or immorality by keeping the various laws that they lay down for adherents to follow.

Different religions have their own take on these things. They mix and match several of these duties and invitations to praise in order to help us close the gap. .

All religions, that is, except for Christianity. Christianity says there is no way that we selfish humans can ever completely close the gap. God will always be God and we will always fail to meet God’s lofty perfections. So Christianity begins with a serious message of despair: “Give up, don’t even try, you’ll never do enough. It’s hopeless.”

Once we embrace this high view of God and honest view of our own moral abilities, we then are ready to hear the main message of Christianity:

“Give up, you’ll never be able to do it…because God has already done it all in your place, on your behalf – and nothing else is required.”

A message like that is music to our ears. Connection with God, salvation, is a gift you receive, not a reward you work for. As it turns out, God is simply holding out a gift to us.

God’s Gift

Think of birthdays for a moment. You don’t work for your birthday gifts. You don’t pay for them if you’re the child having the birthday. If you did, they would no longer really be purely “gifts.” You might say, “You mean God is giving this away?!” Yes, He is. That’s the good news about Christ.

Jesus willingly took the punishment our sins deserve for us when He died on the cross. Because the penalty for sin is paid, God no longer holds our sin against us. This removes the barrier between God and us, inviting us into real relationship with Him.

This is the meaning of the cross. Without the cross, we can only attempt to gain a relationship with God by our own religious pursuits, which always fall short of His glory. Even though sincere in our pursuit, we cannot deal with the real problem of our sin by ourselves. In the end, it is futile and unsatisfying.

As St. Augustine once said of God, “Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” A relationship with God cannot be attained by what we do, but only by what Jesus has done for us. He has dealt with the problem of our sin on the cross.

These are astonishing words of love:

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

John 1:12 “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”

Christ is God saying “I love you, I have closed the gap for you.” Christ is God saying, “You can have an intimate relationship with me now, in fact, you can become my son or daughter now.”

Receiving the Gift

So what must we do to have this relationship with God?

• First, we must give up our well-intended (but futile) attempts to close the gap between ourselves and God.

• Second, we must realize that God has done everything necessary to close the gap through sending His Son Jesus to die for us on the cross.

• Then, finally, we must transfer our trust for our acceptance by God from our own religious works and pursuits to what Christ has done for us.

When you do this, you will be immediately forgiven and received into God’s family. You will possess the gift of God, and the gap will no longer exist between you and Him. You will have a close relationship with God. And one day, because Jesus has removed your sin through the cross, you will actually be with Him forever in heaven.

To Receive the Gift Now…

If you would like to receive the gift of a relationship with God – and close the “God gap” by receiving what Christ has already done on your behalf – then you can ask God for this in prayer. All that’s needed is a simple, sincere prayer like this:

“Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to take the punishment for my sin on the cross. I turn from everything I’ve called religion and put my trust in what you have done for me. Come into my life Jesus. Thank you that even now you have forgiven me. Thank you that I now have a relationship with you. Thank you that you will never leave me. Help me to follow you and live for you.”

Now What?

If you just received that gift of a relationship with God through Christ, then consider how these two verses apply to you now, and rejoice:

John 6:47 “Jesus said, “’ tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.’”

John 10:10 “Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’”

It’s important to let someone know that you have received salvation through Christ. Seek out a Bible-teaching church so you can be loved and helped to grow spiritually. Get a copy of the Bible and begin to read it. Talk to your heavenly Father through prayer. Be sure to let us know, too. Email us at office@highlandspca.org or call us at (601) 853-0636 so that we can rejoice with you in what God has done for you.

In Conclusion…

Thanks for taking time to read this article as part of your consideration of spiritual things. Let me encourage you to continue your exploration on our website, or in person here at Highlands. We’d love to meet you, listen to you, and help you along in your spiritual journey.