Christian friends, I’d like to share something that’s been on my mind and in my heart for a few days now. Last Sunday, my pastor preached a message entitled “Building Bridges.” He encouraged the people of our church to focus on building relationships and strengthening bonds so as to be a bridge between people and Christ.
Following the Example of Jesus: Building Bridges
In John 4:34, Jesus states to His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” How often are we so focused on our to-do lists and schedules that we completely forget that we should be following Christ by doing the will of God and accomplishing His work?
My pastor went on to emphasize that lost people need bridges. They need to see bright examples of Christ that are pointing them to salvation. Believers need bridges. They need to be brought closer to the Savior. We need to be polishing each other and encouraging each other to develop in Christ-likeness and grow as image-bearers.
Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
It is so easy to forget about others and their needs. It is so easy to focus on yourself and on your family and ignore others that may be crying out for love, support, or even biblical rebuke. It’s easy to ignore the task of building bridges, but it’s also easy to reject it.
As my pastor continued to preach, my mind started thinking about my generation. I live in a generation which prides itself on the “I do what I want” mentality. We love to say that we live our life based on what we believe is right, so if you don’t agree, deal with it. We don’t care.
We love to build bridges with people who think, act, and talk like we do. But, do we want to build bridges with the unlovely? No thanks. We’ll pass. We love to think for ourselves and make choices based on our reasoning (which, by the way, is NOT always the same thing as making choices based on God’s Word). We’re okay if you disagree, but don’t expect us to adjust for you or consider your point of view.
Our generation seems to have a problem biblically “building bridges.” Instead, we tend to burn them. We push away others who don’t think like us. We burn bridges with people who don’t have it “together” like we do. We focus on building bridges that will advance our career, our popularity, or our finances.
You know what kills me? We burn bridges with our families. We burn bridges with our parents because we think our ideas our better, newer, and relevant. Instead of talking through differences, and evaluating their point of view, which has been developed through years of experience, we dismiss them as old-fashioned.
We proceed through family gatherings with awkward subjects that are “better left undiscussed.” Or worse, we flaunt our Christian liberty to the shame and frustration of those who tried to raise us to be humble and considerate of others. We dishonor our parents.
Sharing the Gospel
You know what’s worse? We’re missing opportunities to share the gospel with believers and unbelievers alike. Have you heard the old hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story”? The entire song is sung from the perspective of a believer, who loves to tell about the love of Christ.
I love to tell the story,
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest.
Are we hungering and thirsting after the Gospel and the truths of God’s Word? Are we earnestly trying to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of the love and grace God has shown them? Are we sharing this with those who don’t know?
Instead of focusing on networking for the purpose of personal advancement, let’s focus on networking for the purpose of sharing the Gospel. Let’s focus on building bridges with lost people, especially the “unlovely” so that we can lovingly bring them to Christ. They’re not unlovely to Him.
Personally, I have so much growing to do in this area. I have close family members who live differently, think differently, and talk differently than I do. We don’t always agree. Instead of faithfully pursuing a relationship with them that points them to Christ, it’s easy to put the relationship on the back burner.
My life is not about me.
It’s especially easy for me right now with my parents to forget to call and forget to reach out and keep that bridge strong. I love my parents to death, but life is so “busy.” You know what, if I’m too “busy” to reach out and faithfully love my family, then I’m too busy. I need a priority check. My life is not about me. It’s not about my to-do list and my schedule. It has to be about Christ. It has to be about other people.
Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’ve been burning a bridge. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not working to build a bridge, it’s wearing out. If you’re not continually working to grow in your relationships, they’re not growing. Ignoring people is slowly eating away at that bridge.
I don’t have this all figured out, but I do know that I need to change. My life needs to be others-focused. I need to dig deep into God’s Word and then bring the truth that I find to others.
Let’s focus on building bridges with Christians in order to draw them to the Savior. Our focus should be on building bridges with our families to bring them to a deeper love of Christ. Let’s grow in our love for the family members God has given us, the people we should cherish most.
I want to stop burning bridges, and start building them for the sake of God’s glory.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35