Pope Francis’s recent comments in Mexico about walls and bridges caused quite the dust-up. In his follow-up comments, he tried to phrase his thoughts differently. The politics of wall-building and immigration aside, the metaphor of a bridge can help explain the basic truth about our relationship with God.
It is natural to think of bridge building in terms of what is seen: rails, deck, beams, bents, and piers. An engineer can determine how much wood, steel, or concrete is necessary to span a river, and how much load it can bear. Perhaps you’ve seen the “Load Limit” warning signs. But much remains unseen. If the bridge is too low or short, water can overtop and make it impassable during a storm. If the piers are not deep enough, water scour can undermine the structure. You might say that a successful bridge safely defeats unseen hazards that are predictable by an expert.
An Expert has determined that a bridge is needed between people and God. The unseen hazard is the death that comes from sin. God mercifully gave his Law to make us aware of our accountability to Him, and to warn us of the hazard (Rom 3:19-20). Common responses are to either ignore the warning, or to construct a personal bridge relying on church attendance, religious rites, or nice thoughts and deeds. This is amateur bridge-building: it might look right on the surface, but it leaves the user in peril.
This is where the news becomes so good! God “reconciled us to Himself (built a bridge), through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). So we are saved from the hazard by crossing over the bridge, i.e. believing Jesus who is the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim 2:5), and we have the joyful opportunity to point others to that bridge! We are, in fact, ambassadors of Christ by word and deed.
So who is a Christian? The one who trusts Jesus as the way to the Father. What is our purpose? To make Him known. Jesus is the only bridge, brought to you by the Divine Bridge Builder.