I've been thinking recently about church life, and about my own life, and having - once again - that sense that something important is missing in both. It's a recurrent feeling, and one that I find personally encouraging; past experience tells me that often this sense of something missing precedes a period of spiritual growth. I suppose it is like the abnormal hunger that goes hand-in-hand with a growth spurt.
But what are we missing, I wonder? What is it that keeps us from being what we should be?
Increasingly I've become convinced that the problem is the gap between truth and reality. On the one hand, we line up all the things which we know to be true - all the great truths of the gospel. And I think we genuinely believe them, at some level. We genuinely seek to let them shape our lives. But we don't seem to see them worked out in our day to day lives. What we know to be true, and what we see to be real, don't seem to match up.
So we know that the gospel frees from sin and gives us power against temptation - but we still sin, and we still see sins in the Christian community which are appalling. We know that the gospel brings unity - but we look around at an increasingly fractured church scene and wonder what's going on. We know that the gospel brings new identity - but we still wonder who we really are. We know that the gospel brings peace - but we still itch with restlessness. Perhaps above all, and most troubling, we know that the gospel saves - but we don't see many baptisms these days.
What is to be done?
The thing is, we can't bring the reality. We can re-examine our truth, make sure it is true truth, make sure we have really understood it. But only God brings the reality.
What does it look like for us to wait patiently for the Lord?