Bridges and Barriers
Have you built any bridges this week or have you found yourself building barriers instead? The world seems to create greater barriers every week. People seem to withdraw more each day from one another. We base our withdrawal on differences in economics, cultures, religion, education, and even technology. Whoa, you may be saying, technology? It seems the more places I go the more interaction I see with people and their smartphones. People paying more attention to their phones than with the people immediately surrounding them. The barriers get higher and the bridges are not connecting. People relationships are crumbling due to their infrastructure. Even the interaction on social media sites seems to be more in erecting barriers than bridges. People hide behind false personalities and exaggerations of perfect worlds or indirectly blasting those who don’t think like they do.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, spoke in April about the politics and effects of erecting barriers. Â He said, ”As I look around the world, I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward, against the idea of a connected world and a global community. ”I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ”˜others’” He suggested that instead of dividing people we should connect people. Doing this one person at a time with one connection at a time. Since Zuckerberg’s April statements theÂ world has crumbled more. TheÂ United States witnessed the senseless murders of both the police on unarmed citizens and citizens on police. Mass shootings, bombings, and other destructions carried out with people against people around the world. This further eroding the connections and strides that people have made.
The results are unique creations of movements to erect walls that are higher and more secure. The necessary construction of bridge building halted as people withdraw to their own groups or selves. What should Christians do? Should we look at our neighbor, the people on the street, and the stranger in the pew all the same? Or do we follow the world and advance to building taller walls instead of connecting bridges?
Christ ”“ The Original Bridge Architect
This week’s focus verse reminds Christians that before they close the gate to those who seem different from them that Christ breaks down all barriers and accepts all who come to Him. The key word is all. There is nothing that should separate us from other believers. And nothing should keep us from sharing Christ. Even with people who are different from us no matter what the differences may be.
Too often, even Christians, attempt to keep people groups in different boxes. But Paul clearly says that there are to be no barriers as Christ sees none. Believers should readily accept all people types, rich, poor, cultural particulars, education diversity, or a multitude of other created differences some by God, Himself. No matter what comparisons may lie between us and others accepting all into the fellowship of belief is necessary to advance the kingdom. Christ is all that matters and He lives in all of us. So we are to share Christ with unbelievers too, no matter how distinct.
We are not to see difference but the sameness as we connect through Christ. Christian leader, Chuck Colson once said;Â Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.Â As Christians we must lay down the fences we have put up, the barriers stacked, and the walls we have erected. There should be no separations. There is nothing that prevents us from sharing fellowship with one another or the news of Christ with the unbeliever no matter how different they may be from us. We must have a willingness to reach out to all unbelievers and connect to all people through the bridges of relationships without categorizing people in different groups. It is time believers show the world the great importance of building and connecting with genuine bridges of relationships.
In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. Colossians 3:11 (NLT)
The Basics of Bridge Building
So how should you connect with others who may be different from you? Where should you begin when joining together with believers and witnessing to unbelievers that seem peculiar to you? It all begins with the plan of opening your mind to differences and leaving behind even the silent and subtle judgements you hold against those who are different.Â Next comes laying in a firm foundation built without old prejudices that often linger from childhood teachings or even real life experiences. Pride can sometimes hinder even the solidÂ construction of the foundation so be careful to follow the model that Christ gives. Once the plan and foundation are in place you are now ready to stretch out the materials of being genuine, helpful, providing sincere attention, remaining real, and offering true kindness for these are the things that build a good connecting bridge with most anyone.
- Be genuineÂ – People will immediately know if you don’t care about them in a sincere way. So this building material is very important for the load bearing part of the bridge that truly connects. Wasted efforts result unless genuine interest in the person you are trying to connect with abounds.
- Provide massive help – Everyone needs help. You have more to offer than you realize. Give real thought to how you can help someone and even if you can’t the fact that you offered reaches out to make a deep connection.
- Pay sincere attention – If you are being genuine and offering real help you will have to pay attention to the other person. This is the type of attention that truly listens and learns about what matters to them and how you can connect or offer help.
- Be real – If you respond and react to others in a Christ-like way being real to who you are then most people react happily in return regardless of who they are.
- Remain unforgettable through kindness – It is the simple and kind gestures that remain the most memorable at the end of the day.
Bridge Building for Connecting Lives
Building bridges in the world is not only important to close the gaps and connect to others but it is important to your life too. Tony Robbins said, ”The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” A bridge is better than a wall because a bridge not only connects people to people but it builds a better life for all. Isn’t that what Paul was saying? There is a better life for all people everywhere through Christ. For He is all that matters as He lives in all believers and merely waits for the open invitation from unbelievers.
So as a believer grab the challenge to demonstrate to the world that it is bridges that need building and not barriers. Be convicted to do what Christ has taught. Let Jesus be the model motivating you to change the world knowing in the end that you are also changing your life. Can you see the comfort in knowing that God loves all of us? For no matter how different or strange we may seem to others He will not love us less.
Love in Christ,
We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
CreditsÂ Dinsmore, S. (2012, April 25). The 7 Pillars of Connecting With Absolutely Anyone. (F. M. LLC, Ed.) Retrieved 2016, from Forbes Entrepreneurs: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2012/04/25/the-7-pillars-of-connecting-with-absolutely-anyone/#1f7957a17d8b
What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Do you build bridges with others that are different or put up barriers? How have you extended a genuine bridge this week using the right materials? Join us in discussion on building bridges to connect with others.