Yesterday during a staff training session, we were talking about how part of our ministry is building a bridge between the students (and others who come down on mission trips) and those who live in impoverished communities.It got me thinking. Why do we build bridges? A bridge is only necessary if there is not an easier way to connect two points. If there is a flat, passable portion of land, we don’t go through the time, effort and expense of constructing a bridge. It would be absurd to build a bridge in the middle of an open field, wouldn’t it?
It would also be absurd to build a bridge to where no one wishes to go, or to two points which do not need to be connected. Instead, the need compels us to undertake the work. And, it is work! Constructing bridges takes time and effort. Doing it right is expensive, putting sufficient structure in place to provide strength and stability.It can also be inconvenient, rerouting traffic, causing jams and snarls, actually temporarily slowing things down instead of speeding them up. Planning the proper size and shape, deciding on materials, taking into consideration the wind and weather all take intentionality.
We can quickly throw something together, but when the cars or trucks – and the lives they carry! - start to use it, will it stay secure?
As believers, we are commanded to share the Gospel, introducing others to the Savior. We may not always think of it in this way, but part of that sharing is building bridges. It is helping guide people from where they are to where they need to go. They may not even understand the need at first. Or, the chasm below their feet.
Crossing cultures and just the barrier of unbelief, is important, but rarely easy. In fact, like any bridge, this construction can be difficult and sometimes downright messy for a while.
Like with other construction, perhaps there is a temptation to cut corners and just call it ‘good enough’. But, when those who are seeking truth step out, we want to be sure we’ve done our part to build a strong structure.
The fact is our human bridges will always have flaws and imperfections. We need to pay attention and make adjustments. And, we need to freely invite others to use what we have constructed. A bridge cannot fulfill its purpose if it is not used. That can add wear-and-tear, requiring maintenance and repairs.
At times, an entire overhaul may be needed to improve or even upgrade what has stopped working. Like in our individual lives, building bridges is a lifelong task.I am thankful for the opportunity to serve cross-culturally, being a part of this ‘bridging’ construction. I love seeking ways to meaningfully connect people of different cultures with each other.
In this, however, I have to agree with our speaker, who said the bridge isn’t actually the point. If it’s just interesting information, it’s like a pristine and lovely bridge that no one uses.
No, the point isn’t to have an awesome bridge; it is what the bridge does. The purpose is to connect people with the Living God across the chasm of sin and disbelief. It is to bring people to the foot of the cross, where they confront, and then turn from, their sin. It is to allow them to encounter Jesus Christ, and find in Him abundant, eternal life.
If in some small way, a bridge I build can help do this… well, it is worth whatever of my time and effort, whatever of my life, is required.