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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Standing in the Gap

Sometimes people are tempted to think that I have a one (or, at best, maybe two) tracked mind. You know. "He's always talking about the sin of homosexual behavior and the whole 'gay marriage' issue. Doesn't he know it's over?" Now, of course, this is an oversimplification. But the truth is that I do talk about a limited number of issues and I do tend to hit in the same places on more than one occasion. I talk about marriage (real marriage) and I talk about the Sovereignty of God and I talk about sexual sin and sometimes I dip my toe into politics. I certainly hit heavily on doctrine, particularly matters of the reliability and authority of Scripture and such. And given the vast numbers of things about which I could write, it might seem to appear ... limited.

Why do I do this?

In thinking to myself about why, I envisioned a guy walking a horse down a dirt path. He's trying to walk down the middle of the path because getting off the path would be dangerous ground for both the horse and him. But the horse isn't too good at walking straight down the middle and tends toward the edges. So I see this horse veering off to the left and I see this guy pulling hard to the right. Why? Is he so keen to get that horse off to the right? No. It's because he wants to get him to the middle and that is to the right.

Okay, not the best imagery I could find. But that's the idea. There are lots of things that I don't discuss much. Why? Because there are lots of things that are not a problem. Most Christians, genuine or otherwise, aren't confused about "saved by faith" or "Christ died for you" or things like that. We're all happy about God's grace and mercy. Here, let me illustrate. I've talked on multiple occasions about the sin nature. I've tried to paint a biblical picture of Man as sinner. I've tried to drive home the point that humans have earned God's wrath for their Cosmic Treason, that Hell isn't an overreach, but justice. "What," someone might ask, "do you have such a negative image of human beings?" No. I know that we're made in the image of God. I know that Christ died to save us, that He places His own value on us. I know there are nice people, even nice people who aren't Christians. So why the emphasis on the sin problem? Because the horse is veering off to the left, focusing on the nice people and good things about people and missing the balance point of the problem of sin. So I have to pull hard on that problem of sin.

Maybe not clear enough yet. So I came up with a biblical illustration. In Ezekiel God complains to the prophet.
"I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one." (Ezek 22:30)
God wanted someone to build a wall and "stand in the gap". What does that mean? In Nehemiah the people had returned from exile to Jerusalem. They were trying to rebuild. First on the agenda was to build the wall around the city, to make it safe. It was hard work. And they were slow to get it done. Threatened by enemies, here was what Nehemiah arranged. "I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows." (Neh 4:13) So, Nehemiah, what's up with that? Don't you care about the rest of the wall? Aren't you concerned about the other spaces? No, you see, the other spaces were filled in, protected, solid. Nehemiah needed people -- armed people, even armed families -- to stand in the gaps, to protect the city where the holes were.

That's why I do this. Do I think that homosexual behavior is the worst sin? No, of course not. Do I think that 'gay marriage' is the end of the world? Not at all. Do I think that the only issue facing the church today is the improper view of the Word? No, I don't. But I do think these are gaps, current holes in the fence. They're "acceptable sins" to many Christians. They're issues that many are no longer considering.

So I stand in the gaps. Armed with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:17), I'm trying to ward off attacks where Christians appear to be no longer aware of the danger. Or, if you prefer, I'm trying to yank that horse hard in the other direction, not to go off the other side, but to return to the middle path. And I'll continue to do it because God complained when He couldn't find someone to "stand in the gap before Me for the land." Here am I, Lord. Send me.

2 comments:

Marshall Art said...

I really like this piece. It's a good response to those who think we're a one-trick pony. Of course, certain tricks are getting all the attention and there's no reason to think that matching each performance of those tricks with a response is not reasonable. If no one speaks out, eventually no one knows the trick is significant...or they will act as if it isn't.

Stan said...

To me it's like asking the fire department, "Hey, why are you guys always at fires?" They have to go to where the fire is. And, as you say, if no one speaks out, eventually no one notices the problem. It's called "normalization" and it has been Satan's trick since the beginning and the most popular today. Make it look normal and no one will notice.