Recently I stood on the historic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the iconic steel structure that crosses the span between the Central Business District and the North Shore of Australia’s most populous city.
The view from this lofty expanse was incredible: The Sydney Opera House, the white-capped water dotted with boats of varying sizes, the new and old buildings across the metropolitan skyline.
Around me flowed a steady stream of people—some taking in the sites, others running or hiking for exercise. The concrete underfoot shook regularly as passing cars and trucks raced by en route to their destinations.
As I pondered this bridge on which I stood, I thought about the evangelistic theme of “building bridges,” developing relationships with people so you can speak into their lives with the hope of Jesus. We build those connections because we care deeply for the person and want them to know the peace found in a relationship with Christ.
This bridge building is incredibly and eternally important, especially when it’s much easier to sit in our pews on Sunday morning, protected from the world by the walls of the church, not giving a thought to the eternities of those around us.
However, beyond the door of the church is where our friends, our colleagues and our neighbors are dealing with a variety of circumstances: illness and disease, broken relationships, loneliness, job and family problems, just to name a few. They’re searching for something, and—as you and I know—the Bible has all of the answers to life’s problems. But they aren’t necessarily coming to us, the church. Perhaps they’ve seen the way some Christians behave, and they are turned off by it. Sadly, they may feel that church is not relevant to them.
It is because of this disconnect that we have to build bridges to those who need to hear the Gospel.
Standing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I was struck by something. While this bridge offered the most incredible views of what I consider to be one of my favorite cities, sightseeing was not the purpose of the structure. And while there were plenty of people around me who were enjoying their workouts, exercise was not the point of the structure either.
No, we were merely enjoying the benefit of something that had a much bigger purpose.
Bridges can be beautiful and ornate, imposing and impressive, or simple and practical. But, at their root, they all serve just one purpose: to make a path to the other side. The purpose of the bridge was being fulfilled not by me or the other pedestrians, but by those adjacent vehicles rumbling by, delivering people or products from one end to the other.
Similarly, building bridges to our family and friends can have an infinite number of benefits—camaraderie, support and fellowship—but ultimately we need to step out in faith and use that bridge for its designed purpose as we cross it to “deliver” the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:14 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” In this case, you—as the one building the bridge—are the preacher, the messenger. You’re the one who is burdened for your friend and sharing the hope you have.
So how do you do that? How do you cross the bridge that you’ve spent weeks, months or years building?
First, pray. Don’t forsake this initial step, above all else. In Colossians 4:2-3, Paul writes, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains.” So, too, we should pray ceaselessly for our friends, that God would soften and open their hearts to the truth of His love.
Second, look for opportunities to introduce the conversation. Perhaps the chance will come from a movie you just watched or a story in the news. Maybe your friend just went through a very difficult situation and is pondering his or her own mortality for the first time. Consider the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus took an everyday occurrence—fetching water to quench thirst in the desert heat—to introduce her to the “living water.” If you are looking for opportunities and are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, you may be surprised by the doors that are opened to you.
Finally, cross the bridge. Share your faith and the hope that is within you. Be deliberate, not afraid or timid. Be prepared, but also rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you with the words you should say (Luke 12:12). Understand that your friend may not begin a relationship with Jesus immediately, but you are like a farmer planting seeds, readying for the harvest. Perhaps, though, they will be like the Samaritan woman, who—after hearing of the “fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14)—couldn’t keep it to herself, running into town to share this amazing truth with everybody who would listen!
My friends, it doesn’t matter how much time, money, expertise, creative talent or effort is put into building a bridge if that bridge is never used for its purpose. Even more so, while a physical bridge like the one spanning Sydney Harbour serves an important role in transportation, the bridges we build to reach the lost have an eternal purpose. Don’t miss the opportunities that God provides to cross over and share the hope of Jesus in a struggling and dying world!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.