This week I invite you to think together with me about building bridges. No, I don’t mean the type of bridges that we drive cars across. I mean bridges between people. Bridges are built by common interests. Bridges are built by friendliness and a heart that is willing to listen. Bridges are built by honesty and truthfulness. This is true of your every day friendships. It is also true of sharing the truth of Jesus with others.
Paul said this,
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.1 Corinthians 9:19-23
What was Paul doing? Paul was making it his ambition to build bridges between himself and those he met. It didn’t matter if they were folks that he had much in common with (Jews) or little in common with (Gentiles). His commitment was so intentional and so total that he says that he made himself a slave to ALL in order to build these bridges.
Why did he do it? He did it because a Christian’s life IS the gospel. He says that he does it so that he might win more to Christ. He does it because he does all things for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s life wasn’t about petty things. Sure, like all of us, Paul liked what he liked. However, his life was about sharing the life-giving message of the love of God found in Jesus Christ. Petty opinions were not what his life was about. No, his life was about getting the good news to those who needed it. This means that bridge building was not something that was optional for Paul – it was central to who he was.
Consider this: have we become so insulated as Christians in America that we have forgotten that there is a world that is lost all around us? Have we forgotten what life is about? It isn’t about the fun things. It isn’t about what we like, dislike, find fun, or makes us happy. Life is about the good news found in Jesus. Have we also forgotten that those who need Jesus may not talk like us, think like us, or have the same priorities as us? In that context (and I realize that what I am going to say now may seem contradictory) do we also forget that we are just like them? Yes, we have differences, but people are still people. All of us need the love of God found in Jesus. Because of that we have a huge job – build a bridge that reaches people who think so differently than we do. Yet, it is a clearly doable job – they are people just like us.
Why then, do Christians not build bridges to their non-Christian friends or family members? Perhaps I should just end here: do you build bridges to your non-Christian friend? Why or why not? What has kept you from building bridges? Will you build a bridge with someone now? How will your relationships be about the gospel?
Something to think about,