Why has this not been articulated as clearly and as loudly as we might expect…as central to Christian discipleship…given our enormous progress in theology and Christian experience in recent past centuries?
The simple answer is that it has been there all the time. 1 Corinthians 2:6-12…cited in an earlier section in this book…is a confirmation of this idea that the deep things of God are to be accessible and discoverable by Spirit-born Christians as part of the “new normal” of the discipleship experience of taking up our cross to follow Jesus…part of our heritage according to the John 16:13 promise that the Holy Spirit would lead us into “all truth”…the all truth of a personal relationship of trust and dependence upon God that will serve us well for all eternity.
Notable recent historical examples might be Martin Luther, John Bunyan, the leaders of the major classic revivals in Europe and America, foreign missionaries across the globe, hundreds of major figures known in recent church history, and literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of unknown Christians participating in all manner of beneficial social reforms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and ministries to alcoholics, drug addicts, orphans, physically abused women, and the homeless worldwide.
All of these activities can be articulated in whole or in part in terms of the gap…the space…the displacement…between what we can do according to our inherent, innate gifts and talents…below the
demarcation line of what we cannot possibly do within the divine context of a God-composed journey of faith having goals, outcomes, and challenges beyond our reach to control or contrive a positive solution.
Abraham would never have dreamed up the circumstances that found him childless in Canaan and waiting for years for the promise of God to actualize with the pregnancy of Sarah his wife and the birth of Isaac his son…which created the gap…the space…that defined faith as dependence upon the character of God’s word…as described so profoundly and accurately in the words of Hebrews 11:1…” the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Certainly Joseph cannot set in motion the precise series of events that leads to becoming governor of Egypt. David cannot nor would not compose the challenging life-script that prepared him to become king.
No humanistic literary genius would ever come up with the conversion story of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus…creating in one brilliant stroke a preeminently qualified biblical scholar and philosopher…and at the same time a first-century Jew who can approach the Gentiles with the new-found gift of the essential character trait of super-humility…obtained through his own colossal blunder in persecution the early church…that would not look down his nose at the polytheistic, idol-worshipping Gentiles…unthinkable in any other highly educated Jewish rabbi at that time in the culture and society of Israel.
This same thread runs throughout every narrative story of faith recorded in the Bible. The gap between where we are and what we can become within our God-composed adventure of faith…over time…cannot be joined…cannot be closed or crossed…using worldly conventional thinking and means.