Back in January, my husband and I took a trip to San Francisco to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. At the time, we didn’t know a global pandemic would follow just a few months later and this would be our last time enjoying the City by the Bay with such freedom.
We are runners so our favorite way to explore is by checking out local trails. We started out on a cool, blue-sky morning on the paved trail just under the Bay Bridge. We ran along Embarcadero Street past the Ferry Building and all the piers, past the Aquarium by the Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf.
And then it came into view.
That majestic bridge that makes San Francisco famous: The Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a 4,200-foot suspension bridge that spans a one-mile-wide strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This bridge is an international symbol of San Francisco and California. It’s considered one of the “Wonders of the Modern World.”
Shawn and I stopped for a break and gazed out at the great, poppy-red bridge before us. I couldn’t help thinking about how bridges serve a truly important purpose. They make a way. Bridges connect one part to another. Bridges provide a passage across a divide.
I am convinced that what we need in today’s chaotic political, social, and racial climate are more bridges. We are too busy building walls with our words, our choices, and our social media posts.
My friend’s husband designs and builds bridges. He helped me understand that strong bridges have five essential parts: the foundation, the beam, the bearing, the pier cap and the pier. Each of these five parts can be engineered in different ways but each plays a vital role to the overall stability of the bridge.
Each of us in the body of Christ has a different part but an indispensable role in building bridges. Our gifts, our stories, our cultures, our skills, our talents, and our sensitivities were all intentionally-given to us by God to serve the body of Christ. This is hard and holy work for all of us.
Building bridges requires sacrifice. It means taking time to learn the nuances of people who are wired differently from the way we are wired, who look different from the way we look.
Building a bridge means bending to listen to the suffering my sister has endured and leveraging my own privileges to help her amplify her voice.
Let’s be real: It’s so much easier for all of us to just hang with our own people, to remain in the safe spaces that don’t require us to be uncomfortable, stepped on, or repent of our own prejudices. It’s simpler to enjoy our personal freedoms without thinking about how these freedoms may infringe on the well-being of others, or worse, take advantage of the most vulnerable.
My Savior wore a crown of thorns and carried a cross up the steepest hill before the world to be crucified so we might all experience grace, freedom from sin, and His glory. He made himself the bridge for all humankind.
Being a bridge means following Jesus’ lead and actually laying down our politics, our prejudices, our passions, our perfect houses, our planned-out futures and our piercing sense of entitlement in this country on behalf of others.
Jesus invited us into the ministry or reconciliation. He designed us to be bridge builders for His Kingdom. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19:
“All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through the Anointed. And He has given us the same mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bring others back to Him. It is central to our good news that God was in the Anointed making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other” (The Voice).
This summer I led an online book club through LaTasha Morrison’s bestselling book, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. LaTasha’s book ushered us through some key components of the bridge-building process. Through acknowledgement, lament, confession, repentance, and making amends, reconciliation and restoration are possible.
She writes about how reproduction as bridge builders is not optional: “God didn’t draw us through the process of reconciliation for our own sake. He reconciled us so we could bring reconciliation to others in his name… He made us bridge builders so we could draw others into bridge building in his name.”
Eleven men died building the Golden Gate Bridge. That glorious structure stands secure today because people laid down their lives. Who can imagine San Francisco without it?
What would happen if more white women who witnessed injustice against their Black and brown sisters linked arms to help them?
What if more pastors invited immigrants and refugees to share their stories with the church?
What would change if more teachers read books with their students about the history and sacrifice of people of color?
What would our world be like if more people of color took the risk to steward their stories well?
In the same way, may the love of Christ compel us to serve and sacrifice for others and build more bridges to healing.
How is God calling you to be a bridge builder today?
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*This article was originally published at www.incourage.me.
*Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash.
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