It won’t take a lot to convince you that things are kind of a mess in the world.
Every day we come across more and more evidence that things are not the way they are supposed to be.
There shouldn’t be so much anger and meanness. There shouldn’t be war and violence. Children shouldn’t go hungry and sickness shouldn’t go untreated. Nobody should hoard resources while others go without. There shouldn’t be a need for foster families.
I doubt anyone would have reason to argue with these suggestions. But obviously there is a great big gap between the way things are and the way things should be.
I was watching the heart-touching series from AppleTV+ a few days ago called “Trying.” In the first episode of season 3, when this couple that has been longing to be parents have finally taken a child into their home for adoption and unexpectedly arrived home with a sibling in addition, they are faced with having to let the little brother be taken from them because they were only approved for one child. As they wrestle with this circumstance, I heard this exchange:
Jason: “That’s reality, isn’t it? At the moment we live in the gap between the way things are and the way things should be. So in the meantime all we can do is try and make that space as lovely as we can.”
Nikki: “Well… someone really needs to look into closing that gap.”Trying – Season 3, Episode 1; property of AppleTV+
I replayed it probably a dozen times. It jumped out of the screen at me.
I know it’s just a line from a tv program. It’s not Scripture. It’s not the words of a great philosopher. But it’s so descriptive of where we are.
We really do live in the gap between the way things are and the way things should be.
But what about the rest of this character’s assessment? Is it true that all we can do is to make that space between as lovely as we can?
I look at the way Jesus taught us to live in this world and it just seems like that was kind of what He was getting at all along—to make the space between better until the gap is finally closed.
When He taught us to treat people with kindness and gentleness, when He showed us to care for the needy and oppressed, when He instructed us to go back to the beginning and remember what the first and foremost commandment was:
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22.37-40)
Wasn’t He teaching us that loving God is inextricably tied to loving others—and vice versa? Then a couple of chapters later He explained that, when we feed the hungry or visit the prisoner or clothe the needy or care for the sick, we do all of these things to and for–UNTO Him.
When you give your time, your energy, your attention, your resources to make someone’s life easier, you are loving them and loving Jesus.
When you stop and sit with the lonely widow and hurt with her, you are both serving a widow like Jesus and serving Jesus as His people should.
When you step into the pain of foster care—and make no mistake, there will be pain (If there’s not, then you’re not doing it right.)—you are both serving a child like Jesus did and serving Jesus as every child of God should.
When you abandon your clean, tidy, secure life to step into the brokenness of someone else you are making that gap between how things are and how things should be just a tiny bit smaller. Everything we do to serve, to make things better, to help someone through the hard things of life… is one step closer to closing the gap.
You can’t do everything. I get that. I can’t either. But I can do something. Even if it’s as simple as handing a bottle of water to a person on the street or helping a neighbor unload their groceries or sending a gift card for a couple of pizzas to a foster family… everybody can do something.
There such a wide gap between how things are and how they should be.
And we have been promised that a day is coming when that gap will be fully and finally closed. But until then, this gap is our reality.
Whatever we do today, let’s try to close the gap.