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Building The Best Jesus Bridges To The World

The kind of love that others are drawn to.

Almost every day I stop in at a convenience store for a soda. Behind the convenience story is a cemetery. Each day as I pass that cemetery, I can’t help but notice how many beautiful flower arrangements are on the graves, especially in the summer. And I can’t help but wonder if dead people get more flowers than live people.

If so, why would that be? I mull over how many times those people buried in those graves might have received flowers while they were alive. Do those who left the flowers feel regret now? Is regret more powerful than showing love and gratitude while someone is alive? 

I once sent my mother (who I was not close to) flowers on my birthday, thanking her for having me. (Yes, she thought that was very strange!) But I have come to realize that random acts of love, kindness, and gratitude are our calling to reach out to a lost world.

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Sometimes loving others is easy. Many times, it is not. Sometimes it takes a strong, conscious decision to act in love towards another. That’s one of the incredible things about being a Child of God. We can actually do that! Galatians 5:22–23 tells us that one of the fruits of the Spirit Christ followers receive is love.

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Therefore, as followers of Christ, we all have the ability to love even the unlovable…or at least those who may seem to be unlovable at the time. We have the power to love those who are different than us. Those who are culturally opposed. Even those whose lifestyle may offend us.

God calls his followers to be holy and set apart, as well as loving. He also calls us, His followers, to be a bridge of sorts to the world. 

It is imperative, however, that our bridge be anchored and cemented firmly in God’s word. Being a follower of Christ is not about religion and following a stringent set of rules. It is about choosing to take up our cross daily and follow Him who loves us, and share that love by building a bridge to the lost.

It’s very hard for someone to turn away from love. It’s very easy for someone to turn away from a set of rules that makes them feel condemned and judged. It would seem that “shoving the Gospel” down someone’s throat is not the most effective way of sharing Jesus Christ.

It reminds me of a story about my dog, Elvis. He drank some bad water and got a bacterial infection. The vet assured me the pills tasted good and I shouldn’t have any trouble getting Elvis to take them. Twice a day, I would take a pill, hold a squirming dog trying to get away, force his mouth open and put the pill on the back of his tongue.

The battle got fiercer with each dose until finally one day during the struggle, my elbow knocked over my soda and the open bottle of pills. The soda went all over the coffee table and the pills fell to the floor. I went to the kitchen to get a towel for the mess and when I returned, there was Elvis eating the pills off the floor. Yes, that’s right! It’s all in the presentation. No one wants something shoved down their throat!

So, I ask you…are you building bridges to a lost and dying world? Consider the circle of people around you. Some may be very close; some may be relatives; some may be acquaintances; and some are total strangers. Often the hardest people to build bridges with are those close to you.

There is the fear that you may build that bridge and get all the way to the other side, only to have that person tear down that part of the bridge. That can hurt! But it’s ok to keep trying to repair and build that bridge.

Our job is not to save people. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Our job is not to judge. That, too, is the Almighty’s job. 

Our job is just to build the bridge and share the love that has been put in our hearts. Jesus was the model for building bridges. He ate with sinners. He didn’t condemn the woman at the well. Time and again, we see Him reaching out in love to the lost. Jesus met people where they were, and He sets the example for us. Paul emulated this when, in 1 Corinthians 9:22, he states that he tries to meet people where they are for the sake of the Gospel, that some might be saved. 

Yet, Jesus’ biggest critics were the Pharisees, the religious people, who thought He was compromising their laws. Does showing this kind of love really call for us to compromise? Of course not! 

All that we do as followers of Jesus should be honoring to God. While trying to be all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel, ask yourself if what you are doing is dishonoring God and use that as your plumb line. Never compromise the message of the cross…the message of sin, repentance, and salvation.

We still have Pharisees in our churches today. 

They tend to be self-righteous, “holier than thou”, judgmental, legalistic, and lacking grace. I grew up in a small town and attended a Southern Baptist Church. I learned a lot about the Bible, but it was also very much about laws. You don’t smoke. You don’t drink. You don’t dance. And you don’t hang around with people who do!

But I see people who are hungry for grace. The law never transformed anyone. It took the grace of God in the form of Jesus Christ. How can we possibly reach a lost world if we don’t build a bridge into their world? Yet, how do we build bridges with those who are so different from us? With those who are offensive to us? With those who are, perhaps, terrified we are trying to convert them?

The answer is always love. Be controlled by God’s love. See them through God’s eyes. Put away the judgment. Pack up your disdain for their habits and lifestyle. 

Why do we even expect non-Christians to act like Christians?

I learned so much about building bridges by working for a few weeks with a missionary in Turkey. I was brought over to do a concert and music for a group of missionaries on retreat for two weeks with their families. My host was a missionary from our church who had been in Turkey for almost two years.

When I asked him how it was going, he replied, “Well, it’s a slow process. So far, I have two who have accepted Christ.” I was shocked! Two years, and that’s all? But he continued to answer me.

“You can’t come to Turkey as a missionary. You must go as a teacher, or a doctor, or in some other profession. They do not want to be converted. It has taken me a while to learn their culture, to learn their mindset, to learn their lifestyle. Our Gospel is offensive to Muslims. First, I had to gain their trust. And I couldn’t gain their trust by being judgmental. I had to learn their fears. I had to learn what offends them. I had to learn what brings tears to their eyes. I had to learn what keeps them up at night. I had to learn what breaks their heart. I had to learn to speak my life in love. Then, and only then, could they trust me to share the Good News.”

That conversation has stayed with me through the years. As you go about building your bridges this week, I hope this missionary’s words will help. First, speak your life in love without judgment. Are there people you are praying for and trying to reach? If so, do you know their fears? Do you know what breaks their heart? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Have they learned to trust you?

Share your life with them. Share your fears. Share what keeps you up at night. This is the kind of love that people are drawn to. It’s the kind of love that allows a person to trust you to walk with them to the cross…to the great news of the Gospel of God’s grace and love.

https://www.annehopebooks.com

 


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AuthorAnne Hope | BCWorldview.org

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