A smile is a bridge–a bridge of acknowledgement and approval for another human.
It’s the first stage of forming a relationship from afar, and in our culture, a smile is the initiation of welcoming someone into a relationship and encouraging further engagement. Smiles indicate pleasure and enjoyment when we begin interactions with others and in subsequent meetings with them. Authentic smiles connect people.
A handshake is a bridge–a bridge of welcoming or sealing a deal.
We shake hands when we meet someone new or when we are closing a business transaction. Human touch is powerful.
In some Asian cultures, a formal handshake is with both hands in view–one extended and one resting on or under the forearm–indicating there is no concealed weapon with which to kill.
Yeah. Seriously. They’re not kidding.
The Gospel is a bridge–a bridge that can change the future here on earth and bring people into eternity.
A few years ago on mission, I heard women in eastern India giving their testimonies and vividly recall one story given from an unusual young lady. She was unusual in that she had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior-though her father was a fervently practicing Hindu tribal witchdoctor. (To learn more about life with Hindu witchdoctors, click HERE and HERE.)
Because of this sweet girl’s faith, she had been punished severely, beaten brutally, and told to “leave that Jesus alone.” She hid scraps of what was left of her Bible in the bathroom to read and pray in secrecy. Incredibly, behind the toilet was the safest place for her to hide God’s written Word in her home-everywhere else had been violently searched.
Alas, her non-believing mother began to have a recurring dream. There was the earth and across a wide abyss, nirvana, the place of perfect peace and happiness. Spanning the yawning gap was a bridge from one side to the other, with angels moving back and forth continually. In the dream, the mother asked the angels, “Who built this bridge?” and the angels would reply every time, “Jesus Christ built this bridge.”
Haunted by this dream night after night, the woman finally came to her daughter, upset and frightened, visibly angry, and demanded to know, “Who is this Jesus you pray to?” The girl laid out the Gospel message for her mother. The mother accepted the Good News and joined her daughter in faith.
As for the witchdoctor…did you wonder what happened when he found out his wife had converted?
He came and demanded answers. He received the same Gospel message and eventually accepted the same Jesus Christ.
Evil was overcome by God.
Grace conquered darkness.
You know what else? Their entire village was converted that year. Now a woman and married to a Christian pastor, this precious soul continues to be a bridge in her own culture, in her own context, with her own testimony.
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 22:30-31)
Question: What happens if no one willingly stands in the gap?
Answer: God’s wrath and His consuming fire pour out on the heads of those who are not in Christ.
I can’t hardly stand the thought.
What an awful fate.
Thankfully, there is an entire village in India today that we will see in heaven because one young girl chose to standing the gap and be a bridge.
All it takes is a simple authentic facial expression across space to reach out, engage and receive…stretching a distance of two feet to start a conversation with a touch…telling people about Jesus when they ask you the reason for your hope and confidence. All of these actions can bridge the divide between people, inside and outside of the Church.
We need to be the Bridge for the Gospel, in all times and in all seasons.
Loving people like Jesus loves us is profoundly difficult sometimes, especially when they don’t have the same ideas or think the same way that we do. We try to focus on the fundamental reality that binds us all together–the fact that humanity is made in the image of God, that we love Jesus Christ–thinking this should make things easier. But oftentimes, it’s not.
Let’s be honest.
We’re all messed up to some degree or another. We have different backgrounds, life experiences, sin-issues, gifts and talents, tragedies, successes, education, families…sometimes different everything! But, Friends, we have to find common ground, places where we can stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ to reach out to a fallen and dying world to snatch people from the fire. We have to relinquish selfishness, to extend grace and forgiveness, and to stop fault-finding. Good heavens, not everyone has to be just like us!
This takes the work of the Holy Spirit; we cannot do it by ourselves or in our own strength. And that’s just not easy.
But we aren’t called to “easy” and, luckily, we aren’t called to do anything in our own strength. In fact, Christ’s grace is sufficient for us; His power is made perfection our weakness. (1 Corinthians 12:9) And while we’re not called to do it on our own, we ARE called to do what God tells us.
“All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me. Therefore go and makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the every end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20, (emphasis mine)
Jesus is asking His people to become bridges.