“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24 (NASB)
My wife and I live in Austin which has been our home for over 20 years. For anyone who lives here, or has visited here, or even casually Googled Austin, the iconic Percy V. Pennybacker Jr. Bridge (otherwise known as the 360 Bridge) symbolizes the Austin spirit, connecting the northern and southern parts of the city and offering Insta-worthy backdrops from the cliffs overlooking the bridge and lake below.
Every day, this bridge carries nearly 50,000 vehicles back and forth. People of every shape, size, color, belief, age, ethnicity, going about their lives in peace. Some to work, others to see friends, still others on errands or just to get out.
Bridges Bring Us Together
The 360 Bridge comes to mind in a season like this – a season of uncertainty, a season of fear, a season of weariness, a season of distance. Heartbreaking pictures from the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, continued strife in Afghanistan, endless arguing over social media between strangers and friends … these and countless other issues scream at us as daily reminders of what separates us, what keeps us a part.
Bridges like the 360 Bridge are built to bring us together, to connect us over the most troubling of waters. Bridges can span vast distances or cross the smallest of streams. Bridges can take us from where we are to where we dream to be. Bridges show us how, regardless of how far apart we are, there is something that can bring us together.
Our Separation From God
Yet there is one chasm, one distance no bridge built by man can ever span – the infinite void separating us from God. No amount of prayer alone, no good works, no moral virtue, no best intentions will ever get us across.
Our separation from God is why for countless centuries we have continued to fight, continued to struggle. Regardless of what we say or do, we are irrevocably broken with God. Why? In one word – sin.
Sin is not a particularly popular word in these days of so-called progressive enlightenment. Sin seems a bit old fashioned, something our grandparents talked about. Today, we “live our own truths,” accepting everyone, offending no one, advocating for anyone with a cause. The path to God is one we create, not something found in the dusty pages of a book written thousands of years ago.
And still the gap between us and God only grows wider.
Jesus: The Ultimate Bridge Builder
But there is someone can build the bridge to span the gap of our sin. One who God foreswore as a “priest forever” and the “guarantor of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:21-22). Someone the Apostle Paul describes as the “one mediator between God and humanity” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
That someone is Jesus.
Jesus is the ultimate builder of bridges. Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus extended his hand to the outcast, the lost, the broken. He invited them across the bridge only he could build, the bridge leading to the Kingdom of God.
And indeed, Jesus did invite everyone to cross his bridge into the Kingdom. “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened,” Jesus tells his listeners during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:8).
Yet there was a condition, a subtle one missed by so many today. Jesus invited us to cross the bridge, not our sin (Matthew 7:13). To cross the bridge of redemption, we must surrender our wills to God’s, repenting of our former ways.
Jesus loves all of us. He equally shuns all our sins. And he lets us know directly that to gain entry into the Kingdom we must turn from our old ways and turn instead to him.
To some, this message seems harsh. To me, it is the ultimate message of freedom! There is nothing more liberating than knowing I can throw off the shackles of every sin I’ve ever committed – and that list would be long in my 63 years – onto Jesus and have them lifted from my shoulders.
We Can Be Bridge Builders
Like Jesus, you and I can be bridge builders. Our role is to ceaselessly invite people across the bridge Jesus has built for them – regardless of who they are or what they have done. Our job is not to judge, but to show the way (Matthew 7:1).
And another amazing thing happens when we become bridge builders with Jesus. We find the chasms in our own lives can be crossed! Broken relationships, crippling addictions, prideful arrogance, loneliness and isolation – Christ can build a bridge to help us across all of these.
We use the 360 Bridge in Austin regularly. My daughter lives just on the other side in the hills over Lake Austin. The 360 Bridge keeps us connected. And like that bridge, the bridge Christ has built is ready. We just need to be willing to use it. If you have a need for pardon, an urge to commune with God and bask in his grace, don’t waste another minute. Don’t delay. Cross the bridge. God is waiting.
May God always guide your path.