I had the pleasure of spending some time in the UK last spring and at one point traveled underground in London via the Tube. I was repeatedly reminded, by both signs and recorded announcements, to “mind the gap”—the space between the edge of the platform and the edge of the subway car door. Awareness of the gap and taking appropriate precautions was crucial to avoid injury. I didn’t want the headline to read, “Clumsy American Pays Penalty for Not Minding the Gap”!
The writer of Hebrews describes a different kind of gap that we ought to pay attention to as well. In the first two chapters, the author highlights the supremacy of Jesus Christ over the angels. He quotes Psalm 8 as a capstone to his argument, stating that God crowned Jesus “with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (Heb 2:7b–8a). Hebrews 2:8 continues, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.” Yes and amen! This is an encouragement that the One who sits at the Father’s right hand reigns over all things.
But then the writer tells us about the gap: “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” Yes, Jesus is on the throne and all things are subject to him, and yet, the writer says, this side of glory we won’t fully experience the reality of that. There is a gap—a space between the way life is and the way it should be. We notice the gap when we see something painfully wrong. So when tired, hungry refugees crowd into a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Mosul, we are right to say, “This is not the way it’s supposed to be.” Or we might notice it when a husband leaves his wife for a coworker. Or when we are impatient with our children instead of displaying gentleness and kindness. Gaps abound—in our lives, in the lives of our friends and fellow church members, and in the world around us.
How do you respond to the gaps in your experience? I know what I do. Too often I careen between two extremes—give up or fix it. When the gaps are too large, too overwhelming, or too painful, I am tempted to give up, numb out, and live in a place of functional despair, as if to say, “This will never change.” On the other hand, sometimes the gaps move me to a panicked flurry of activity as if I have the power to fix all that is wrong in my life and world. But both of these options are self-oriented ways of responding to the real and distressing gaps in our experience. Both miss Jesus.
Yes, it is true that in many ways “we do not yet see everything in subjection to [Jesus].” But the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “we [do] see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Heb 2:9). What is the writer saying? Acknowledge and face the gaps. But do so with Jesus at the center of your gaze. He has tasted death—the ultimate gap—for you. This is why he can say, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Looking to Jesus gives us hope and courage to pray,
Lord Jesus, I am so troubled by the gaps I see in the here and now. May your perfect reign extend more fully to the brokenness and sin in my world. Teach me what it looks like to endure patiently and to act justly as your ambassador today.
More succinctly we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
So how do you mind the gaps of life between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ? Don’t simply stare at the gap, debating how to leap across it (or not). Don’t simply look down at your own two feet. Look up instead to the One who entered history to walk amidst the countless chasms of this fallen and bruised world. Look to the One who ultimately overcomes the gaps through his life, death, and resurrection to glory.