By: Brandon Verderber
From the end of January until early spring, pop culture is on display through performances and award shows that flood television networks. These performances while artistic, often challenge our basic beliefs as Christians and many Christians lose hope in American culture with every passing event. This year is especially difficult because one of the most controversial films in American history hits theaters over Valentine’s Day that is said to glamorize abuse and inappropriate relationships.
Many times, the Christian community finds itself in a war with culture over these events that result in damaging consequences on both sides. Culture gets an inaccurate view of Christianity that is wrapped in anger and closed-mindedness, while the Christians begin to make culture into their number one enemy and they separate themselves from valuable content, conversations, and relationships. This can be especially damaging to young adults. This is why I think it would be helpful to begin looking at culture through the lens of a gray bridge or a bridge painted in “shades of gray”, if you will.
As we visualize the bridge I want us to see it as our connection between ourselves and those around us. I say that it’s gray because I think it is important to begin to embrace the gray space between different extremes that we may have been taught or witnessed throughout our lives. As Christ followers, it will become very important that we learn to not burn bridges, but build them… and often times we have to allow those bridges to be gray.
Here are just a few ways I’ve found that we can build more bridges:
The Bridge Is A Place To Admit “I don’t know everything.”
One of the most unattractive things we can be seen as is pretentious or prideful. We like to act humble, but when it comes to our beliefs, pride has a way of disguising itself as standards. Let’s try not to hold so tightly to what we think we know that we push away valuable relationships. God has called all of us to know His Word well but he hasn’t called us to hold hard and fast to truths that we have not tested ourselves by studying His Word. In some gray areas, it is way more helpful to say the difficult phrase, “I don’t know” than to make up an answer.
The Bridge Should Not Be Narrow.
Matthew 7:14 says “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”, but this scripture does not give us license to make the way to God narrow in our own lives. Jesus spent a whole lot of time with people that would never make it into Heaven. He hung out with and eventually died for men and women who would never accept him, even in his resurrection. This is the way we need to love people.
We need to make plenty of room at our table for people who not only do not look like us, but might not have a place anywhere else.
While they might not agree with us on very many things, those are the people we need to take across the bridge with us. They might not get involved in our churches or find their way to faith, but in the end we’ll all be better for knowing each other.
The Bridge is a Place To Accept Responsibility.
This gray bridge thing is a huge pendulum swing for a lot of people. Sometimes we run from things we consider sin so much that we land in the area of pride and other times we become so open to new ideas that the bridge becomes an excuse for sin. The bridge is the place to accept responsibility for our faith and our decisions. Just because the bridge is gray does not mean that God’s view on sin is gray. The bridge is the place to own it.
Let us own our views on things and work to discover the truth in them.
Let become secure in our faith and allow God to open our eyes to the work He is doing outside of what we are used to.
Let us own the fact that we have more to learn and that we need relationship.
Let us own the fact that we can encounter views that are different than ours and we can leave with our relationship with God intact.
Let us take a step out onto the gray bridge and see what the different perspective can do for our lives, our faith, and our influence.
Brandon Verderber is the Young Adult Pastor at Woodlake Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His mission is to help 20-somethings become part of a church family and to help them deal with the difficult transitions that happen during their college years. To learn more about Woodlake Young Adults visit woodlakeag.org/youngadults.