“And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?” (Mark 4:21)
There are many applications that can be made with this verse, but I want to stay with the simplest and most applicable today. The point of this verse is that a candle is not intended to be placed under something which will block its ability to shed light on the surrounding area. Candle’s, especially in the day and age when they were used as a primary light source, were intended to put in a place that would allow them to brighten the space around them.
Christ uses this analogy in speaking about believers as they live their lives. Although the scriptures teach us that we are in the world and not part of the world we are also told that we should allow our belief on and in Christ Jesus to be a light to the rest of the world around us. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to believe on Christ in a way that does not hinder the potential belief of those that are walking the same path.
In today’s article I would like to consider this subject using the framing question: Are you building or burning bridges in your life?
An Ineffective Approach
“Like so many other similarly afflicted evangelicals, I thought by hurling verbal hand grenades concerning sin and wrongdoing into the world, the shrapnel would somehow rattle sinners back to their senses. To me, jabbing and stabbing the world with the sword of what I considered impeccable logic and reasoning, backed by God’s Word and a dash of holy anger, was the way to turn the world around. I was burning bridges rather than building them.” ~ From The Church of Irresistible Influence by Robert Lewis
This has been the tested approach of many who, while not classifying themselves evangelicals, call themselves pastors and ministers of the gospel. Ultimately, the approach has not only proven to be offensive and hard to stomach but utterly ineffective. Rarely, if ever, has the church of Jesus Christ found itself to be growing in health first and numbers second when the pastor was in this mode.
Unfortunately, this approach is still all too common today among ministers as well as general professing believers. They believe they are living a purposeful life of morality and righteousness but fail to realize they are actually leading a life of burning bridges. Sadly, not only are they burning bridges with non-believers but often they are torching pathways with fellow saints.
Sadly, one of the greatest destructive forces in our society today is a sense of not belonging to anything. It is often the reason behind abuse, violence, drugs, and alcohol. Even sadder, the greatest influence the church can have in a community is to provide a sense of belonging and that influence is often not realized. This is not to say the church should be accepting of any condition a person is living in. Rather, the point is that the church has the opportunity to help people change the condition in which they are in.
As we go forward in this year, let us each strive to make it our purpose to help those around us feel a sense of belonging. Take time to greet people with a smile, call them by name, ask them about their children, or a thousand other steps. It doesn’t take the church running a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, or a children’s ministry to accomplish this. Rather, when we let the light which is in us through the love of Jesus Christ shine we inherently will bring a sense of peace to those around us. Let us plan to build bridges in our communities rather than tearing them down. Those bridges just might lead to another Child of God coming to see the truth of Jesus Christ.