Bible Verse: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-10

Bridge building is crucial for all of us who want to speak with our families, neighbours, friends and acquaintances. In some cases it means creating connections when the culture differences and worldviews that separate us are obvious, like our clothing or differing religious worldviews. In other cases, though we may largely share the same cultural heritage, we have to bridge radically different worldviews. To find a way to connect with neighbours and those who may become friends we must seek to build bridges of friendship and commonality.

One of the major ways in which many of us need to change is to become people who radically accept others. We Christians tend to be uptight about people engaging in sin. We are often unaware that our body language sends out the message that we are uncomfortable around sinners. How unfortunate, because we somehow transmit our discomfort, and the people we are seeking to reach sense that we would rather not be with them. Somehow we must do better at communicating deep love and acceptance to imperfect people. Jesus did it.

We may be accused of loving those around us with an ulterior motive. There is nothing wrong with loving people with an ulterior motive as long as that motive is not manipulative. To love in the present so that more love can be expressed in the future is surely a good thing! The problem arises when we harbour a project mentality that loves people only because they are viewed as potential receivers of the Good News we want to share. We should never cease to love people even when they say “No” to Jesus. People are not projects; they are precious human beings who are to be loved and cherished for who they are.

Almost every day we have opportunities to witness to people we know in a casual kind of way. For instance, we cross paths with the same cashiers in grocery stores, the same tellers in banks, and the same vendors at the farmers’ market. On these occasions we rarely have time or opportunity to speak the whole truth, but we do have time to work on building bridges of love and acceptance. A smile, using someone’s name, being interested in others and open about ourselves are just a few of the ways we can make these connections significant ones.

I think that Christians are often hesitant to confess to strangers that they are followers of Christ. Probably most of us consider it safer to not volunteer too much information about ourselves. Our willingness to be transparent about our faith will often open doors that otherwise would have stayed shut.

We should regularly pray for family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances and regularly seek to be with them, deepening the friendships, loving them as we can. Then, sooner or later, we can expect God to give us opportunities to witness openly and naturally into their lives with words as well as actions.

— Royal Hamel in Unmuzzle Your Inner Sheep: Liberating Believers to Share Jesus ©2013. Used by permission.

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