There is a term in business that serves as a “how to” approach to problem solving and it focuses on the difference between a desired state and current state. In other words, this is the vision of where we want to be versus where we are. It is appropriately called a “Gap Analysis” and it defines and measures the gap between present reality and a desired future reality.
One might wonder, “What does a Gap Analysis have to do with being a Christian?” At face value, perhaps not much. If you view and contrast, however, the vision of humanity and life that Jesus aspires each of us to achieve in the Bible versus our reality as sinners struggling to behave Christ-like; amazingly, a Gap Analysis approach may be very apropos.
Part of the struggle to live as a Christian, walking in Jesus’s path, is being able to visualize and encapsulate our thoughts, actions and behaviors in a way that emulates the “rules” of God as Jesus lived. At the foundation of Christianity lie the “Ten Commandments”. Let’s begin by labeling them as the desired or future state. Aligning our lives with this desired state constitutes compliance and fulfills the requirements of Christianity, albeit a perfect existence, virtually impossible to achieve as we are imperfect by definition.
As the Golden Gate Bridge was created (constructed) in 1937, it served one monumental and macroscopic purpose, to bridge the gap between San Francisco and Marin County in California. Prior to its existence, traveling 4,200 ft over water to reach a destination (desired state) may have been considered impossible to achieve; much like living the perfect Christian life in accordance to the Bible.
And much like the Golden Gate Bridge transforms a perceived impossibility into reality, Christians can benefit from this example to effectively move toward the desired state (living in accordance to the Ten Commandments as defined in the Bible). This can be accomplished by adopting a perspective of maintaining focus on the end-goal or destination, and not becoming overwhelmed or preoccupied with other things, while progressing toward it.
We are many times distracted in life by seemingly monumental issues and goals, that when placed in proper perspective, are in reality, insignificant. Issues like technology, social norms, leisure, peer pressure, group-think, etc. which over time, unguarded, become false gods in and of themselves.
“The bridge that can effectively transform this perceived impossibility into reality for Christians, is realistically, a collective set of practices that work together to create the necessary synergy to overcome hurdles, face failure, recognize success and realize Christian principles. As the Golden Gate bridge is constructed of many materials, each serving a specific function, the Everyday Christian must likewise employ several approaches to yield the desired state.”
Integral to this end are Prayer, Reflection, Forgiveness, Humility, Kindness, Obedience, Respect, Discipline, Faith and above all, Love. As the Gospel of Thomas indicates, “the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.”
A life of humble, authentic and sincere means can easily become a more significant presence and example of Christianity, than one of importance, recognition, fame and financial means. It is always intent that is paramount as opposed to method. What matters most is what dwells within your heart. Indeed, these are the “Living Years”. Be well.
I marvel at American culture and society as both are viewed as experts at the fabrication of self-serving “truths” which subsequently serve as guidelines for future expectations and norms. Indeed, (collectively) it has produced “reality television” and the self-admiration society via The Emmy’s, Oscar’s, People’s Choice, Golden Globe’s, Grammy’s, etc., ad nauseam.
We are great! Just ask us and we’ll tell you. In fact, we have self-indulged to the point that many people have come to worship actors, television series, people’s lives, technology, pets, social media and even their cellphones! Can you say “False Gods?” (I knew you could).
Seriously, as an understatement, American society has regressed, or should I say, digressed, to the point of spending a vast majority of our waking moments fixated on inanimate, grossly unimportant and borderline OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) behaviors.
Likewise, we (collectively) have gravitated toward irresponsible, unaccountable, immature and brazenly poor judgment about life, priorities, personal decisions and values. By most measures, we are behaviorally and socially “Going to Hell in a Handbasket.”
We spend the lion’s share of our lives pursuing these things at the expense of truly appreciating, valuing and teaching the essence and significance of our lives to our children; and then in the same breath, wonder in amazement as we repeatedly see mass shootings, violent crimes, total and utter disregard for human life, immoral behavior and absent accountability from our children, all at shockingly young ages.
And we wonder why?
Yet, at that ever-so-conspicuous point in each of our lives (right before death), we magically “find” and beg God for forgiveness and plead for just one more day of life, or one more day with some person, or one more chance to “get it right.” Pretty pathetic, yes?
Looking back from that forward “place”, where has God gone? Why has He abandoned that person? Isn’t God supposed to be all-forgiving, kind and eternally loving? Funny, I don’t recall ever hearing about God’s Greatness, even His existence, from so many of the people I see, know and/or observe as I interact with them on a regular basis.
In essence, God has become the instant gratification deity like a pacifier to a child. And then, when WE determine we no longer need God, we conveniently and expeditiously return Him to the remote corners of our brains and our lives. Sound familiar?
I have developed and drawn my own hypothesis about God, specifically, the vehicle of Faith as it serves to acknowledge, reveal, summon and interact, with God.
“Largely, I believe faith is an instinct, as is breathing, sleeping, loving and yes, even dying.”
It is primarily involuntary as evidenced by all the professional athletes that point skyward or perform the “Sign of the Cross” both before and/or after a successful “play” in their respective sport. We have no trouble believing the Hollywood animation of Avatar, special effects of Jurassic Park, or the flying ability of Superman.
Yet we struggle to believe in a God who performs miracles on a daily basis, who saves victory from the grips of evil, who promised mankind an eternity in that place called Heaven. We struggle, I contend, because we know, deep down in our soul and spirit, that God is indeed real and we have consequently taken Him for granted.
Accordingly, my challenge to you is to contemplate the reality and search for the presence of God in your life, because He most assuredly is there, if only you take the time to look for Him, to seek Him in times of trouble, and most importantly, speak to Him in gratitude for every waking day, every exhilarating breath, and every precious moment that you spend with the people you love in this life.
Although He is all these things, God doesn’t need to be perceived as incredible, supernatural, omnipotent, powerful or almighty. I’m sure He would be very satisfied if only to be perceived as real and eternal.
Ironically, tomorrow is Good Friday, the day all Christians have been taught that Jesus was put to death. More importantly, Sunday is the Christian celebration of Easter, the quintessential event and the remembrance/celebration of the day Jesus was resurrected from the Dead.
Faith is as real as the air we breathe, the water we drink and the wind that escorts birds across the sky. All we should need is a moment of gratitude, an act of kindness and a magnificent sunset to pay homage to our creator. There will be plenty of time to watch our favorite television series as well as March Madness.
Instinctively, Love conquers all. And Love is God. Be well.
This article is dedicated to a dear and missed professional associate who I just learned had tragically passed away in January, Chad Davis. God have mercy on his soul and grant him eternal life. (1970 – 2013)
- How Do You Talk To Your Kids About Easter? (matthewruttan.com)
- Archbishop Chaput’s Weekly Column: Holy Week (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Believing Without Seeing – Normalizing Faith (cerkas.wordpress.com)
- Without the Resurrection (kimstaniforthblog.wordpress.com)
- I Believe in God the Father, 33-40 (excitedcatholic.com)
- Rusty Nail (poetscircle.wordpress.com)
- Our Faith (everydayordinarythoughts.wordpress.com)
- Good Friday’s Good News (probings.wordpress.com)
- A Good Friday Reflection: The Narrative of Redemption (prodigal.typepad.com)