“Roadblocks or Bridges?”
“It shall be said, ‘Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle from My people’s way.’”
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them.” (Matt. 19:14a) He said this because the disciples were stopping the parents from bringing their children. I guess this idea of being a hinderance has really been hitting me lately. The pharisees often condemned Jesus for breaking the rules. Sometimes Jesus responded with deep sadness. Sometimes He got angry. Often, Jesus called them hypocrites. They were hindering the outpouring of God’s love onto the people. The irony was that the rules the pharisees supposedly followed were not from God, they were traditions made up in their own minds.
Sometimes I hear people say, “That church [FPCSA] is more concerned about rules than relationships.” Sometimes someone will come up with an innovative idea, but it gets shut down because it breaks some unspoken rule. That makes me incredibly sad! I mean, if the greatest commandments (rules) are to love God and to love one another, then the very rules we claim to follow exhort us to prioritize relationships!
Can you think of times the church has set up roadblocks rather than built bridges? Let’s work toward becoming better bridge builders! Let’s start asking ourselves, “How can we make this work?” rather than coming up with reasons why it won’t work. We have a goldmine here at this church: a large facility in the heart of the city. How can we better build partnerships with other organizations to build bridges to Jesus Christ?
It’s October. We have a tradition to celebrate WORLD COMMUNION on the first Sunday in October. We have a combined service with our Hispanic, Youth and Children’s Ministries. We hang flags representing the countries of origin of our members in the sanctuary. Some of our members refuse to come because they don’t like the flags or don’t like the bilingual service. Are we setting up roadblocks or building bridges?
On Monday, October 31st, we’ll be hosting TRUNK-OR-TREAT in our parking lot. Last year, we had nearly 100 people show up, many of whom were unrecognizable to Sandra and me. We had many volunteers show up from outside of the church. What an incredible opportunity to build bridges to our community! And yet, many people refused to come because they “don’t celebrate Halloween.” Are we setting up roadblocks or building bridges?
I want to encourage myself and our church family to consider possibilities, rather than focus on possible problems. Let’s seek to encourage and build up, rather than criticize and tear down. Let’s prioritize relationships above rules. Let’s build bridges, rather than set up roadblocks.
I remain yours in Christ’s Love and Service,