Once upon a time there was a tiny community in the Swiss Alps. This community was in serious trouble. The well that supplied water to the village went dry. The people began to panic. A river was near the community but it was located at the bottom of a deep, deep gorge. Hence no one could reach the water. And it was the middle of summer, so the snow on the mountain had long since melted. There was, however, another well flowing with water across the gorge on the adjacent mountainside. An imaginative young thinker came up with a solution. He built a bridge across the gorge. The villagers were elated. A bucket brigade was formed immediately and the water supply was replenished. Needless to say, the bridge became very important to this group. It was their source of life. They honoured the bridge. They named the bridge after the builder and painted it a beautiful gold. Tinsel was strung from the bridge. Miniature bridges were built and sold in the streets. People wore them on their necks and hung them in the windows. A committee was formed to pay homage to bridge. Only certain people were allowed to walk upon it, and then only on certain days, and then only when wearing certain clothes. The bridge keeper became the most respected and revered position on the mountain. No one could see or cross the bridge without his permission. Unfortunately there were some disputes within the committee. The disagreement centred on whether a canopy should be built over the bridge. So the bridge was closed until a decision could be made. Many villagers died of thirst while the leaders debated.
It’s easy to think that in the above paragraph, what went wrong was that the decisions weren’t made quick enough, or that the committee should’ve been changed earlier, or even the bridge should’ve not been painted…but maybe, just maybe, the real reason why the bridge debacle happened in the first place was that people were putting emphasis, maybe even a resemblance of worship, upon the bridge itself, rather than acknowledge that the bridge was just a means to an end- just a way to receive the water the village desperately wanted? Everyone wanted the spotlight, and everyone wanted to matter, the leaders the most, so rules were made- you can’t walk on the bridge on Sundays and Thursdays because that’s when the founder of the bridge has his quiet time on it, you can’t wear blue or red on the bridge because the bridge founder hates those two colours, bridge visits are to be supervised at all times because…well, who knows what could happen when people walk on the bridge not supervised by the one who created and thought about the bridge in the first place. When we look at it, these rules seem farfetched, and the story itself seems farfetched, but deep down, we all know we can act that way in life. Especially towards our fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
As like how the bridge was respected and worshipped, to the point where there were disputes and arguments about who was to walk on the bridge and what the bridge would look like (and thus people died of thirst while the dispute happened); we as Christians may place more of an emphasis on the process of being a Christian than really be a Christian. What does it mean to be a Christian? Should I have a cross around my neck? Should I try to discuss about God, Jesus and the questions about eternity in every conversation I have with strangers and friends alike? Or should I try to always give words of encouragement to our friends, in the name of love, even if we know they are not in the mood for such a word? Should I have a bumper sticker on my car, or quote bible verses to you when you’re feeling down? What does it really, really mean for us to show God’s love to those around us? Is it to do all these things that I’ve aforementioned, or is it just simply to love without reservation, and be present in the situation? We don’t have to say or do much for them to know God’s love. In fact, sometimes saying a bible verse here and there, or even discussing about Jesus at every moment we have, may often deter people away from wanting to know more about Christ. Because at the end of it all, we will we placing more emphasis on the ‘rules’, rather than the grace that comes from just letting all our preconceived ideas of what a Christian should be, behave and undertake, down before Christ, and allowing Him to shed light on how He wants us to act when we’re in the presence of people who don’t believe in Christ.