Summary: Inviting the congregation to partner with the new outreach course. revision of sermon preached in the spring.
Why Jesus Who? September 9, 2007
The Bridge Illustration:
The Bridge Illustration – thanks to the Navigators
This illustration has been used to lead thousands of people to Jesus. It is great in that all you need is a writing instrument, and something to write on. A pen and a napkin, a stick on the beach…
I want you to draw this with me – to help you remember it.
1. God wants to have a relationship with us.
2. However, we have rebelled against Him and broken off that relationship.
3. Most of us are aware of this and try to do things to get back to God, but it doesn’t work.
4. Furthermore, the sins we have committed have to be punished, and that punishment is death.
5. But God did for us what we could not do, and that is build a bridge back to Himself.
6. He did that by paying our death penalty when He died on the cross.
7. One last thing. It is not enough just to know this. We must act on it by admitting that we have rebelled and by telling God that we want His forgiveness and leadership.
8. Where do you think you are on the diagram?
This is a great way to tell someone the gospel – even if you don’t show them the illustration, but just use it as a memory tool so that you can explain your faith to someone.
The difficulty is that most people these days are not standing on the edge looking over the precipice of sin trying to get to God on the other side. There are people who are nowhere near the diagram!
Many people who have some sense of journey toward God have a number of chasms to get over before they even get to the chasm of sin and death.
I’m going to put them into two categories.
1) Intellectual Issues, things like the Historicity of the gospels, & the deity of Jesus, how Science and Faith relate to one another and if they are compatible, or what C.S. Lewis calls “the Problem of Pain.” Or “how can a loving God allow so much pain in the universe.” It is not that all of these issues are solely intellectual, some issues are close to the heart as well as close to the head, but they are chasms that people need to cross just to get to the point of understanding their need for Jesus.
The process of crossing the intellectual chasms isn’t necessarily linear – it reminds us that we are talking about a relationship, not a intellectual discussion. There are times when people might have a number of intellectual issues with faith in Jesus, and then God touches them in some miraculous way and the intellectual issues become so much smaller than they were. It can work the same in human relationships – it’s why God gave men things like flowers, good food and poetry, because if we had to convince women’s brains that marriage is a good idea, we’d be lost!
I think that if we are looking for a church program to help people get over the intellectual issue chasms to meet the living Christ, Alpha is great. Nicky deals with many of the issues that people have, and the discussion time can help work through the issues that Nicky leaves out. For some people the course helps them work through the issues and come to Christ, for others, they come to Christ and then start to work through the issues
2) There is another Chasm, or set of chasms that people have in the way of coming to God through Jesus. I’m going to call these moral issues. It is not that people believe that Christianity doesn’t make sense, (although they may believe that as well) but they believe that some of the things that we Christians, and or the Bible, teaches or practices are morally wrong. Things like what the Bible says about women, and how the Church has treated women, How the church treats homosexuals, the exclusivity of Jesus’ claim and the Bible’s teaching that he is the only way to God, the violence in the Old Testament and the violence that has been used and continues to be used by Christians in God’s name. The hypocrisy that you find in the church can also be a moral chasm as well.
I was having this conversation with Gene Templemyer, the Sr. Pastor at Spring Garden Baptist church (the diagram actually comes from him) and we were talking about how we help people over the moral issues chasm so that they can continue on their journey toward God through Christ. Gene was saying that he thought that if it is the death of Jesus that gets people over the sin and death chasm, then it is the life of Jesus that can get us over the moral issues chasm.