“Pablito the Bible was meant to be a bridge not a wedge.” This quote from the Alex Sanchez book “the God box” reminds us of what God truly intended His Word to be a tool for.
The Bible was intended to be a way of us learning about and sharing how God wants us to live. But what happens when we get it wrong? What does it look like when we turn the Bible from a bridge drawing us closer to others, to a wedge that divides us?
I have experienced Christians who have used the verses from the Bible to justify judging or hating people who live differently from them. One verse that is frequently used is “stop judging by mere appearances, instead judge correctly.” (John chapter 7, verse 24).
Unfortunately some Christians take the term “judge correctly” as permission to condemn and hate others if they disagree with them. This verse can also be seen as an excuse to ignore following the commandment “the second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark chapter 12, verse 31).
So how can we use those same verses to build a bridge to others?
It is true that the verse in John chapter 7 speaks of judging correctly, but how do we do that with love? The best way begins with how we speak.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. But only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29).
So in speaking the same message with love, does this start to build the bridge that God intended His Word to be? How does love change things?
Love covers all
“Most of all love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter chapter 4, verse 8). This verse speaks of the power that love has over the evils of sin.
Loving the sinner doesn’t mean you excuse or endorse their sinful behavior, it just means that you don’t focus completely on condemning that person for their behavior and you are willing to look at their hearts the way that God does.
“But the Lord said to Samuel. Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel chapter 16, verse 7).
So if showing love builds a bridge, what is getting in the way?
More than what you see
In the Bible there were many examples of Jesus having run ins with the Jewish leaders because He chose to do things that went against Jewish laws (healing on the Sabbath, associating with people of lower status etc.) But Jesus always rebuked them for being more concerned about following the laws than about caring about people.
“Which is lawful on the Sabbath? To do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill? Bit they remained silent.” (Mark chapter 3, verse 4).
Jesus was more concerned about helping those who needed Him than by rules and laws. He showed us that putting customs and rituals ahead of people was a definite way of building a barrier between man and God.
I am blessed enough to attend a church who is able to use God’s word as a bridge to guide others to Him by displaying His unconditional love and acceptance. This loving acceptance has brought many different people from different backgrounds to God and helped them overcome their once sinful pasts.
Unfortunately I am aware that not everyone is blessed enough to have that experience and that some places of worship are not as welcoming. This is when the Bible that divides people because of different theological views
In finishing I leave you with some final thoughts. What are we as God’s followers, doing to ensure that His Word is a bridge used for reaching out to others, rather than a wedge that drives us as Christians apart? What can we do to make the word of God more of a guide to help us to live how He wants us to live? Rather than a rule book that is used for condemning.
My name is Kate and I love gardening, exercising, and being involved with my church social groups. I have loved to write from a young age, and took up poetry as a teenager. I have recently got married and am enjoying getting used to married life.