The gospel itself is gapless, air-tight, a seamless cloak; however, I cannot say the same for my practical living out of it moment by moment. It is quite possible, even probable, to have sturdy and robust doctrinal understanding of the gospel and a spotty and weak practice of that same gospel.
There is often a vast difference between our doctrinal creed and our practical creed. Oftentimes, our practical creeds, the truths we tend to naturally live out of in distress or duress, expose places in our hearts where we may cerebrally know the gospel, but are currently not truly believing and living out of it.
We can read all the gospel-centered books and blogs, and well we should. Likewise, we can learn how to clearly and winsomely communicate the gospel to a wondering, wandering world. But the fact remains that until glory, we will still have gaps in our practical creeds.
God graciously commits Himself to exposing the gaps in our practical creeds, in order that He might begin to invade and fill these gaping chasms with the knowledge and experience of His grace.
Yesterday, when a wave of terror and fear swept over me after I told a trusted and trustworthy friend that she could take my two older children to the beach for the day, a gospel gap was graciously exposed. My doctrinal creed tells me that the God who created my children has all their days written for them and has their little wild hairs numbered. If He can be trusted with matters of eternal significance, then surely He can be trusted to keep them from getting sucked into the non-existant undertow my fears had them dying in. Yet my stubborn and irrational fears revealed a gap in my practical creed. I say that I entrust my children to God, but in reality, on a practical basis, I often trust in my presence and control.
Today, when I was overcome with frustration and shock that my normally responsible, controlled, dependable eldest son hit his baby brother on the head out of nowhere, a gospel gap was exposed. I cerebrally know that the gospel says that we have all fallen short, that we are all fraught with sin and weakness, but I practically expect my oldest to consistently and completely remain obedient. When he hit his brother unprovoked today, I was genuinely shocked. “Where did that come from? What’s going on, son?” I asked reflexively. Rather than responding by annoyed shock and a shaming tone, the gospel frees me to answer the question I posed to him. “I know exactly what is going on, we are sinful and in desperate need of God’s Spirit to walk in what is right.”
My first response when God reveals a gap in my practice of the gospel is frustration that I still don’t have this Christianity thing down. But that frustration eventually gives way to gratitude that we have a God who finishes his work, a God who does all things well, an Author and Perfecter of our faith.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6.
Some wrongfully call Him “the God of the gaps” under the notion that he is merely a wives’ tale invented to fill the gaps of science; however, there is a sense that we can rightfully call him the God of the gaps. He will not rest until every gap in the practical creeds of His children is filled and overflowing with the great grace of God as seen through Christ.