It’s obvious that Christianity and culture have never been “best friends.” Actually, it’s usually quite the opposite. The Christian community often finds itself in a war with culture that results in damaging consequences on both sides. Culture gets an inaccurate view of Christianity that’s wrapped in anger and closed-mindedness, while Christians begin to make culture into their number one enemy, separating themselves from sometimes valuable content, conversations, and relationships. Such thinking can be especially damaging to young adults.
This is why it can be helpful to begin looking at culture through the lens of a gray bridge. As we visualize the bridge, let’s view it as our connection between ourselves and those around us. I refer to it as gray because it’s important to embrace the gray space between different extremes we may have been taught or witnessed throughout our lives. As Christ-followers, it’s important that we learn to not burn bridges, but rather build them. Sometimes, we must allow those bridges to be gray. Here are three things to consider as we build more of these “gray bridges”:
1. The bridge is a place to admit, “I don’t know everything.”
Among the most unattractive ways we can portray ourselves as Christ-followers is pretentious or prideful. We like to act humble, but when it comes to our beliefs, pride has a way of disguising itself as a standard. 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, but he hasn’t called us to hold hard and fast to any truths we haven’t tested against Scripture (see 1 John 4:1). In some gray areas, it is way more helpful to say the difficult phrase, “I don’t know” than to make up an answer.
2. 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.” This verse 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 whom we might think would never make it Heaven. He hung out with (and died on the cross for) men and women whom we might think would never believe in Him, even in His resurrection. This is the way we should love people. We must make plenty of room in our lives for people who look different than us and might not be embraced by anyone else. While everyone might not agree with us on every issue, we need to look for opportunities to lead people 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 and planting seeds of faith.
3. 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 so hard from things we consider sin that we become captive to 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. The bridge is the place to own it. Let’s own our views on things and work to discover God’s truth in them. Let’s become secure in our faith and allow God to open our eyes to the work He’s doing outside of what we may be accustomed to. Let’s own the fact that we have more to learn and that we need relationships. Let’s own the fact that we can encounter views different than ours, and we can walk away with our relationship with God in tact. Let’s take a step out onto the gray bridge and see what a 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. Follow Brandon via Twitter and learn more about Woodlake Young Adults visit woodlakeag.org/youngadults.
*For guidance on how to address life’s gray areas in light of Scripture, check out Gray Areas by Mike Glenn.