Thin Spaces

The “Highlands” hills of Scotland hold a visual power over people when shrouded in the mist and fog beauty that is now synonymous with that area. The Celts of hundreds of years ago would say that in Scotland, heaven was and earth were just three feet apart, but at times they were just inches apart.

They called these times, when heaven and earth almost touched, “thin spaces.”

Thin spaces are the places where heaven seems closest to earth, where you can almost sense a different kind of presence to life because of the proximity of something that feels holy and uplifting.

What I wonder, is if thin spaces can’t be intentionally created.

As people of the Kingdom of God, we are gospel carriers, good news people. We are “sent,” as Jesus proclaimed in John 20:21 to his disciples, out into the world to display and carry the good news of the Kingdom that Jesus announced.

What if that mandate was couched in terms of being creators of thin spaces? What might our life look like then?

Evangelism is often frowned upon by both Christians and yet-to-be-followers of Jesus alike. Most Christians don’t like to “do evangelism” any more than people today like to be told what they should believe. But this understanding of evangelism often stems from a view where someone knocks on the doors of perfect strangers and asks for some time to talk about sin, hell, the cross, and salvation. Or, we have visions of people handing out booklets on a street corner, just hoping it will be read instead of tossed into the next trash can.

What if I suggested that evangelism, sharing the gospel and God’s kingdom, can be framed in a different light?

What if your everyday actions, your discussions, your encounters could be opportunities to create thin spaces in the places you live, work, and play? Wouldn’t that be a weight off the traditional expectations of sharing your faith? If you could intentionally bring heaven a little closer to earth in the ways you live with others, wouldn’t that be a legalistic load off your shoulders?

I like to envision my day with the mission to create thin spaces for others. Oh, I fail at this sometimes, surrendering to my own selfishness or sin. But the idea of looking for opportunities to bring a display or taste of heaven to a situation has transformed the way I look at joining God in his work in the world.

Each day brings new opportunities and encounters where I can join Jesus in expanding his kingdom, not always with words, but sometimes in the way I love and live with others. This is intentionally creating those thin spaces where earth and heaven feel a little closer. For those that don’t follow Jesus or have a faith life, the hope is that they sense something different in me…something has come close to them that doesn’t feel like this world.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a place for frank discussions about faith, life, Jesus, and what it looks like to follow him. However, I think what Jesus was trying to show his disciples (and us) is that faith is meant to be integrated into our lives, around tables, at meals, in everyday encounters. Isn’t that what we see in the biblical accounts of his life?

At Pulpit Rock Church, where I attend and serve, we often use terms like “missional, sent, and kingdom.” We want to encourage a life that is integrated in the story of God in such a way that our everyday actions are examples and displays of what  God’s kingdom looks like, or should look like.

We want to live a “missional life” that is intentionally “sent” to join God in his mission. This can begin in our own neighborhoods. Yes, when Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself,” it meant all people you encounter. But what if we took it literally and started right in our neighborhood or apartment complex?

What if our call was to intentionally bring thin spaces to the lives of those we share space with?

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