The Bridge

Bridge Diagram: Step 1

Sometimes, when I’m telling other people about Jesus or the Bible, I like to draw out a picture. I’m not a professional artist, so it’s not a very fancy picture. But I think it includes many of the most essential elements of the biblical narrative: how God designed the world to work, how the world came to stray from God’s design, and how God has carved out a path — albeit a narrow path — back towards life the way it was meant to be lived. I’ve recently discovered that the picture is not as widely circulated as I thought. So I recently decided to grab a piece of paper, a marker, and the camera on my smartphone to take some pictures at my kitchen counter, so I could share the steps of this drawing. The drawing starts very simply, with two three-letter words: “Man” and “God” showing how God designed the world to work. It was supposed to be uncomplicated. We existed. And we were at peace.

Bridge Diagram: Step 2

The word “Man” can also be more inclusive: “Human”… “Woman”… “Humanity”… “People”… This part of the diagram is basically just trying to show the way that our world is described in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. Genesis 1. God created everything, including human life, and it was good.

Bridge Diagram: Step 2B

But the next phase of the drawing shows what happened when God gave us agency: the chance to choose if we would go along with God’s design, or if we would try to strike out on our own. This was necessary for true relationship (something more meaningful than the relationship of a puppeteer and his puppet), but it also led to tragic consequences, described in Genesis Chapter 3. Humankind decided we would prefer the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of Obedience. And so, we created division and separation.

Bridge Diagram: Step 3

God remains good, holy, set apart, while we become mixed up in evil, and self-centered thinking, and what we might call “independence.” This separation between Man and God has become a kind of chasm, or canyon. The abyss between us has been given many different names: Sin… Death… Brokenness… Hell… It all just points to the fact that we’ve become separated from God, from the life he meant for us to live. And we’re just not capable of spanning that gap, however much we might like to. We’re sinful over here, and God’s holy over there.

Bridge Diagram: Step 3

Much of human history since this separation has centered around various attempts to bridge this gap, to get across this canyon.

Bridge Diagram: Step 4

Religion is one of the primary mechanisms in these attempts, a part of every human society that’s ever existed: usually centered around rituals, incantations, sacrifices, and acts of devotion… But we’ve also tried to focus on doing good deeds, imagining restoration to be like balancing a scale with more good things on one’s side of the scale than bad things, hoping that this will lead to good will in this life and restoration with God in the afterlife… Or we’ve developed the idea that maybe we just need more knowledge or better knowledge to bring about restoration…

Bridge Diagram: Step 5

Or we just try to ignore the problem and focus on finding as much comfort and pleasure and diversion as we can in this life. The problem is that the Bible tells us, pretty clearly, that all of these human efforts fall short. Romans 3:23 says, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Bridge Diagram: Step 6

Religion and Good Deeds and Knowledge aren’t bad things. Better than pure hedonism or ignorance. But whether these things get us five feet across the canyon or fifty feet across the canyon, they all amount to the same thing: Falling short… Death… Separation…

Bridge Diagram: Step 6B

Ultimately, the Bible tells us that restoration had to be initiated by God. He was the only one capable of bridging that gap. And our narrow path to salvation is dependent upon our willingness to accept these terms. This is why — as counter-intuitive as it may seem — it’s Good News to accept the fact that you’re actually way worse than you ever dare to admit to yourself or to others.

Bridge Diagram: Step 7

We have to admit that we can’t do it on our own. We need God. But then, the other half of the Good News is that God’s goodness is way better than we ever allow ourselves to imagine. God is glorious… and generous… and gracious… and good. And He’s actually far more inclusive than many of us imagine Him to be. We just have to walk the narrow path that He’s laid out for us. And that path is the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Bridge Diagram: Step 7B

Jesus satisfies God’s requirements for justice by paying off our sin debt. By covering that chasm with His own body. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” So, we fit through the narrow door and walk the narrow path by faith in Jesus. It’s not enough to just acknowledge the existence of the bridge; it’s essential to step out onto that bridge — to understand this is the way that I’m going to be saved from death. Not by my own self-righteousness, not by my religion or good deeds or knowledge. Purely by knowing Jesus, walking by faith in Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6

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