Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You A Bridge, Or A Wall?

That might seem to you an odd question. But I was reflecting upon this issue yesterday morning on my way in to work. Of course, I am speaking specifically to and about those that name the name of Yeshua/Jesus as Lord, Savior, and King. So, why would I be contemplating this?

In some form or fashion, I think, every believer is a bridge or a wall. Some are both, but we'll get to that in a few moments. If one were to consider for a moment whether bridges and walls are apt metaphors for believers, one may be hard pressed to determine which is one is better, and which one is worse, depending upon how one views it. But I will make the case that both can be good, and both can be bad, if they are kept separate. My point will be that one must be BOTH (not because I am a pluralist, nor an ecumenicalist, in the modern sense) if one is to be biblical in their obedience (and obedience is the main thrust and point of this). "What does being a bridge or a wall have to do with obedience?" you might be asking. Let's take a moment and consider what bridges and walls are for, and perhaps we'll see...

Maybe you are making the connection already concerning the bridge. After all, we know what bridges are for, and we can immediately recognize that we need to create "bridges" for people to make the journey from unbelief to faith. But my point here is not that we need to create bridges, so much (such as clever evangelization programs, etc.) as that we need to be bridges. One way that I know this is that the scriptures admonish us to not be stumbling blocks to others, to not offend in what we do, etc. "Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling." 1 John 2:10. "For they (the wicked) cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble." Prov. 4:16. "But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts...." Mal. 2:8. "It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." Rom. 14:21. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matt. 18:6.

A bridge is obviously not meant to impede, or cause one to "stumble" - it is meant to provide access. And with the few verses that I shared (and there are plenty more that could be shown), we can see that we are not to cause anyone to stumble - which is contrary to the function of a bridge.

A wall obviously has a couple of purposes. Walls form the outer structure for a building. Walls keep unwanted things out, and they provide protection. Walls make a distinction between spaces. They provide (define) boundaries. And we too are to define "boundaries." We too are to be "structured." We too are to "protect." We too are too keep "unwanted things out." "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?...I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?" 1 Cor. 6:2,5. "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." 1 Cor. 14:29. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you...." 2 Cor. 6:17. Of course there are many other verses I could share, but I think you get the point. Every one of these verses speak of making a distinction ("judging"), setting boundaries ("judge", "touch not"), etc. And so we see that we are to exhibit the function of a wall in our lives (metaphorically speaking).

The problem, though, is that too often we are either all bridge, or all wall (or, at least, way too much of one while minimally being the other). A wall is good for a building (read "family", "Church", "group", ie., any societal "structure"), but if that wall has no door, no window, it becomes a prison. A bridge is good for providing a pathway (read "no impediment", "no hindrance", etc.), but without rails (walls), there is no protection, no safety, as one passes over it. A house without ways in and out (that could, of course, be locked if need be) is useless. A bridge without railing or borders is dangerous. I think you see where I am going with this.

It is not enough to be a wall...even one with doors and windows, for a wall may hold up a building in which one can find rest and protection, it doesn't help anyone get anywhere. A bridge is needful when one is on a journey, but without protection along the path, can be very dangerous. We, as believers, are called to be ambassadors for Messiah Yeshua. An ambassador is "bridge", so to speak, between two parties. We are to provide access for others. We are not the destination (ie., home; building), we must provide access to the destination. And this we do with our words and actions. Many of us can throw out the words, but our actions so often do not square with our words (a non-functional bridge). Or, we lead others astray because we seek to be loving and kind (a bridge), but we provide no boundaries along the way (being non "judgmental" - of course - not properly applying that principle. We are not to be judgmental, but we are to provide right judgment. Notice that the two are very similar, both containing "judge" and "ment" - but one ends where it should, while the other goes to far, if you catch my drift).

So, while the title of this post asks whether you are a bridge or a wall, I left out the third option, the one that we ought to be: a bridge with walls. And how to create this "structure" is found in the "blueprints" - the Bible!

So please, read your bible daily, and do what it says!

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matt. 7:24-27


Kaboom said...

Wow-what a great perspective! I see the qualities and problems with both (bridges and walls)...seeing the equal balance. When I saw the title-I thought you would bring this into a "you need to be a bridge to lead others, and not a wall for making others to stumble", but I like how you brought out the good and bad in both-helping to realize the best!

~your try-to-be wall/bridge daughter,
Kaboom :)

Anonymous said...

As always such a wonderful nugget to chew on. Kaboom said it better that I could. Well done. :) I've been struggling with proper balance of this topic in a situation, and this brings it home and to the point with what I have been searching out in the Scriptures. Thank you again for a Word aptly spoken.
Blessings, Jen