Bridging the Gap
Coming out of our series on “Real Relationships” it became evident that there was a disconnect between the foundation that was built as we studied Ephesians and how to live that out. The biggest challenge to living it out is the relationship gap.
The relationship gap is that gap between two people that must be crossed in order for real relationships to occur. As students asked questions about living in real relationships, we saw three types of gaps surface. Looking at these gaps will help us understand our role in real relationships that glorify God.
The Enemy Gap
What do you do when a person has named you as their enemy? Provoked or unprovoked, how do you love and serve a person in relationship when that person would rather bash in your face (literally or figuratively)?
In this situation, while we are clearly called to love that person, a real relationship might not be possible. The best you can do is refuse to hate that person in your heart, pray for that person and do right by them whenever the opportunity arrises by refusing to return evil for evil. The hardest part is that these enemies often attack without provocation. The reality is some people just might choose to make you there enemy. When that is the case remember God sees you both as people he loves so you need not take on their attacks as a defition of who you really are, and at the same time you are called to not attack that person in return out of reverence for the love of Christ.
The Knowledge Gap
The knowledge gap exists before every relationship begins. There is a point in time where you are a stranger to everyone you meet. What often happens over time is that if this gap is not crossed initially, it will widen and become a breeding ground for misunderstandings or preconceived notions makig it more difficult to cross.
Initiative is the cure for the knowledge gap. A person must choose to put aside their assumptions and spend time with the other person in order to begin the trek to relationship. Questions are your greatest tools for this journey. Learn to cultivate a deep hunger to learn about what makes the other person who they are. What they like and dislike, their passions, their interests, their annoyances, all of these things are there to be discovered, but they take genuine questions by one person to get to when the knowledge gap is present.
The Cultural Gap
This sort of gap sounds really big and we can be tempted to believe that we will only face it we leave our homes and travel to another country. The reality is that there are cultural gaps that must be crossed in our own neighborhoods and even within our churches. They are smaller gaps to be sure, but the gap between junior high and senior high and the gap between genders are very real (especially when the two are put together, a senior high girl and a junior high boy usually look like two people from different planets).
The cultural gap the knowledge gap can be the same, but there can be additives that can change the cultural gap and make it more difficult. In our conversation with the senior high we talked about how there are things that as high school students they need to be willing to do in order to bridge the gap and help bring unity in the group. Looking to build relationships rather than simply trying to lead, trusting the adults to handle issues of order and discipline, and looking past the surface of others to find the image of God in the other person are important steps for our group in order to cross the cultural gap.
Crossing the gap is hard. It takes effort and initiative whether you are a teenager or a seasoned citizen, but it is the call of Christians in search of real relationships.
Where do you see a gap between you and someone else that needs to be crossed in order for your relationship to develop more fully? Are you willing to take the initiative to make that happen?