Crossing The Bridge
March 31, 2013
Every bridge is designed to span a chasm between ‘here’ and ‘there’.
Built to withstand pressure and constructed to endure force, bridges give us passage to an otherwise unreachable destination.
In this special Easter message, Ed Young looks at the ultimate bridge. And as we discover how Jesus spanned the greatest chasm, we also see what it takes to move our lives from here to there…forever.
I want to welcome everyone here. We have many different environments. Right now we are seen live in Miami, Midtown Miami, South Miami. I’ll be doing a service tonight down there. Plano, Downtown Dallas, Downtown Fort Worth, Columbia, South Carolina, and our online audience. Happy Easter! Happy Easter!
You know, Easter is the time of good news. It really, really is. And I know we’re in overflow in a lot of areas here and at our other campuses. They were texting us and wanted me to do a shout out to everybody, also, who are in overflow. They’re telling me even in the overflow of the overflow.
Well, you see a bridge behind me. See that bridge? I asked that construction team to build that and they did a fantastic job of this bridge. I don’t know if you heard about it. You saw it earlier but we did a service at Clyde Warren Park. Clyde Warren Park is actually a park on a bridge. It connects downtown to uptown Dallas. You’re probably wondering, why Clyde Warren Park if you’re Miami or South Carolina. It’s downtown Dallas. We had thousands and thousands of people. What a statement to the city of Dallas. I think the crowds were estimated at 7,000-10,000 people at our Good Friday service. And it looks like we’ll do the same thing next year.
There is nothing, though, like Easter. The bridge is really about Good Friday and Easter. The bridge. The first bridge (I did some research on this) was probably a tree over a ditch. And then from there basically we began to build bridges. We, being human beings. You had people on one side of the cliff wanting to visit people on the other side of the cliff. They got tired of trudging through the canyon, trying to negotiate all the troubled waters, all the junk, so they thought, hey. Let’s spend some money, let’s think about it. Let’s build a bridge. And basically the way people build bridges is pretty ingenious. You do a foundation on one side, you build a foundation on the other. Then you connect a bridge deck somewhere in the middle. Thus, you have a bridge. We cross bridges, though, reflexively, almost instinctively. When I’m crossing a bridge I don’t say to myself, “Oh wow! I’m crossing a bridge! I’m on a bridge!” No, bridges are everywhere. Now and then, though, when I cross a spectacular bridge or something that’s really, really cool I will go, “Hey Kids! Lisa! Is this amazing?” and they’re like, “I’m afraid to look out the window it’s so high!” Yeah, you talk about bridges and experience bridges that way. Bridges, though, are everywhere. They’re just everywhere you look.
There are also bridge sayings that are popular, bridge idioms. Like, London Bridge is falling down. Or, Hey, don’t burn that bridge. Or build a bridge and get over it, man! My favorite, though, is this: I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. That’s a brilliant idiom. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Don’t mess me around with what might happen in the future. I don’t want to deal with what could happen. Let me deal with what’s going on today. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
What if he doesn’t ask you to marry him? Well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
What if this company that you’re starting doesn’t make it? What if you can’t get financing? Dude, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
What if you miss the flight? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. What if it rains? What if it gets rained out? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. We say that. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. It’s a great saying. Because we can’t deal with something until it presents itself to us. A bridge. A bridge.
Good Friday and Easter. A bridge. I would say that the cross is a bridge and we have a bridge to cross. Jesus is the bridge. The Bible is the book about the bridge. I’m beginning a series of messages called Bridges. It’s pretty original, isn’t it? Yeah. We’re gonna talk about, over the next couple of weeks, building and burning bridges. Next week we’re talking about how do you build a bridge, or should you build a bridge, that someone else has burned. How do you build a bridge to someone that you don’t even like. That’s what we’re talking about next week. Some of you are like, you’re talking about my spouse! Yeah, we’re gonna be talking about that so you don’t want to miss this. Building and burning bridges. But today we’re gonna talk about bridges, that’s why we have this cool bridge.
Since the beginning of time, if you study human history and know anything about history, man began to look outside of himself and man quickly came to the conclusion that there must be a God. Look at the world. Look at the Creation. Look at the trees, the grass, the flowers. Matter matters. So human beings said, yeah, there’s a God. And obviously human beings thought (which is true), God is much more transcendent, much holier, much more righteous than I. Because as human beings looked inside of themselves they said, man, I’m not that good. I mean, when I look inside myself… and I’m a pastor! I say, yeah, I have good days but naturally I’m not that good. And if I say that as a pastor I know you say that. It’s OK to laugh.
We’re dark inside. We don’t always tell the truth. We try to one-up people. We have prejudice and pride and anger and greed and immoral thoughts. So man, back in the day and even today, looked inside of himself and man said, well obviously God is awesome. God is out there and I’m here so man quickly thought, you know, God is sequestered (that’s a popular word) from humanity. Yeah, we can kinda connect a little bit but not that really… human beings knew that gnawing feeling. They knew they had that low-grade sensation that God was out there and human beings were separate from him.
Well, the Bible puts it this way. The Bible says that we all mess up. That we all fumble the ball. That we all have a problem and our problem is basically sin. Now sometimes when I say the S-word people are like, “Sin? Oh, man. Here we go. Sin.” No, no. Sin is just an archery term. You shoot an arrow and miss the target.
Let’s say that’s God’s side and let’s say this is man’s side. God’s standards, the Bible says, are perfect, holy. We miss the mark. We just don’t get to where we need to go. So as man developed and as man realized that there was a gulf between himself and God what did man do? We thought up different faith systems, different world religions. And there are a myriad of world religions. Basically to summarize the world religions, and I’ve studied them all, world religions, these faith systems, are a bridge-building contest from man’s side to God’s side. World religions would be a colossal construction project of bridge building from the human side to the divine side. That’s what they are. If I can fly a little straighter, if I can be a little bit more righteous, if I can be more religious, if I can jump through this hoop or that hoop… Yeah, I’m not gonna come close to God, I’m not gonna bridge the distance, but maybe just maybe, God is having a good day. And right before I die maybe God will say, “You know what? I’m feeling good about you. Just come on in to heaven.”
All the world religions, it’s kind of a dice roll. Fingers crossed, they don’t give any assurance of where we’re going. All world religions (I’ll say it again), all faith systems are a giant construction project from the human side to the divine side, except Biblical Christianity. Listen very carefully. Biblical Christianity says something totally different. Biblical Christianity is unique. Biblical Christianity says that God saw the human condition, God saw your unrighteousness and my unrighteousness, God saw our iniquities, our shortcomings, and it moved his heart with compassion. It moved his heart with love. Love has to have an object and we’re the object of God’s love. Is that crazy?
God did something! God orchestrated a brilliant plan. He built a bridge. He sent Jesus, his best. Even though we burned the bridge Jesus built the bridge on Good Friday and through the resurrection. He conquered sin. He conquered the grave through coming back to life. Thus, God spanned the bridge from the divine side to the human side, a bridge in, through, and over troubled waters. Jesus was in it. He became man. Fully God and fully man, something that our pea-brains will never quite grasp. He went through it.
You think you’re going through depression? You think you’re going through alienation? You think you’re going through suffering? Loss? Trial? Temptation? Jesus went through it like none of us will ever go through it.
I love to fish. I love to chase fish that are big and wild. Doing that over the years I’ve gone to some places that most tourists would never go. I’ve gone to jungles, I’ve gone to mangrove swamps. I always, though, before I go to a place like that, hire a guide. I follow somebody who has been there. And I’ve just been in places where all I’ve done is I’ve just followed the guide. And after going through miles and miles of swamp or through quicksand or whatever, I’m like, I would be dead without the guide! You hire a guide because he knows what’s going on. Jesus was in it. He went through it. He wants to be your guide and mine. And he’s the bridge over troubled waters. God built the bridge. And that’s the good news of Easter. God built the bridge. Something that we can’t do. He built it from the divine side all the way to the human side.
How many golfers do we have? If you play golf, anybody? OK, several years ago my family and I went to Hawaii. We were staying in a condominium and on our lanai, this porch, we could see this beautiful par 3. This par 3 was very difficult, very deceptive. It was built out on a cliff. The tee-box was on this lava rock. You had to hit from the tee-box across the Pacific. It looked like only 50 yards but it was really a lot longer. You had to hit across the Pacific from this little tee-box all the way to this green the size of a postage stamp. So, for several hours I watched all these foursomes putter up in their golf cart. And you know most of the guys were playing golf and they would have their wives or girlfriends with them. And you know guys, we want to impress them. We love for the ladies in our lives to go, “Oh, you’re great! You’re probably better than Bubba Watson! If you had breaks and I think you’re right there with Tiger Woods.” And these guys would be decked out in the latest golfing attire, smoking expensive Cuban cigars. And they would walk to the tee-box and look over at the green and, you know… throw the cigar down, take out the club, kinda warm up, kinda look back. Maybe a quick picture. And you see them address the ball <whoosh!>. Almost every one of them misjudged the hole. Almost every one of them misjudged the hole. Almost every one of them fell short. Their golf balls got baptized time and time and time and time and time again. And when the sun set I had an adult Easter egg hunt because I went and collected over 100 golf balls! What was going on? These guys were thinking they were playing on the PGA but really they were playing putt-putt trying to navigate the windmill hole.
We’re like that, aren’t we? We think we look better than we do, especially the men here. We look in the mirror, we see David Beckham reflected back.
“I do look like Beckham! And you complete this sleeve right here, of ink, and I will be him.” No, you’re not. We overestimate our looks. We overestimate our intelligence. We overestimate our athleticism. “Man, I’d be playing with the Cowboys if I hadn’t blown my knee out in the 9th grade.” No, you wouldn’t. You’re too slow.
We also overestimate ourselves spiritually, don’t we? We try to build these bridges to get to God. From man’s side to God’s side. And our bridges are about this big. “Woo! Wow! Look at that bridge! I’m gonna build a bridge! Wahhhh!!! I’ll get to God! Waaaa! Yeah I can do it! Waaaaaa!” We’re in trouble.
The world religions, the other world religions, are they really good news? “Work harder! Buy more materials! Put on the hardhat and safety goggles, the Red Wings! Tighten your tool belt! You can do it!” No, you can’t. No, you can’t.
And some here, some of you are on the construction plan. You’re trying to build a bridge from man’s side to God’s side by being more religious. Jesus said one thing about religion, he was against it. It’s a relationship. As I said earlier, God, because of his love, built the bridge.
Some are saying, “But Ed! I’m sincere as I build this bridge. I’m so sincere! I’m sincere!” Well, you can be sincerely wrong. I just drank a cup of espresso because I’ve done so many services, right before I walked out. I can sincerely put arsenic in the espresso before I drank it and I would sincerely be in dire straits. I would sincerely die. You can be sincerely wrong. I have good intentions. I’m really good. Your materials will run out one day. You’re not gonna come close to bridging the gap. God is holy, he’s righteous, he’s perfect. I’m not. You’re not.
Lisa and I have been married for 30 years and Lisa is a low-maintenance woman. She really is. But she had one thing on her bucket list. She wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. And sadly I didn’t take her until several months ago, but I did it. I did it. I took her to the Grand Canyon. She was so happy! She woke up that morning, “This is gonna be one of the greatest days of my life. We’re going to the Grand Canyon!” So I found this company, and a bunch of tourists and I hired this helicopter to take us into the belly of the Grand Canyon. So we white-knuckled those seats that we were riding in, strapped into, all the way into the bowels of the Grand Canyon. With the river rushing through, all those fast waters, and everything. When we landed and when the chopper stopped we hopped out. I said, “Lisa, get over here by yourself. I want to take a picture of you with my iPhone.” You know, I love the panoramic on the iPhone. And here it is. There’s Lisa. Can you tell? That is a satisfied woman right there. Look at her. She’s so happy! After 30 years I finally did it! We had a picnic at the bottom with these tourists and it was really cool. We had a great, great time.
As I was looking at the Grand Canyon, though, it’s so massive you can’t even see one to the other. You can’t see one side or the other side. And then I thought, wouldn’t it be ridiculous if someone built a bridge over the Grand Canyon. Then I said, no one could do that. And then I thought immediately about scripture. The Bible says – and I don’t, some of you are like, “Oh, you must think about Scripture all the time. You walk through life… ‘Genesis 1:27. John 3:17. Romans 8:11.’” No, no. Some people think that as the pastor but it’s just no. No, no, no. God spoke to me, not in an audible voice, but he just brought back to memory some of these Scriptures. Our iniquities have separated us from God. Then I thought about Proverbs 14:12. “There is a way that seems right to man that only leads to destruction.” I can build a bridge! I can do it! I can jump through this hoop and I can be a good guy or a good girl, keep my nose clean and work for charities! Good. But good isn’t good enough.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, Ed. You know, the things of God, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” You’ve come to it. You can’t make that excuse any more. The cross is the bridge and you have a bridge to cross. “There is a way that seems right to man but in the end the way is death.”
The Bible says the wages of sin is death. I hate to bring up a sore subject. We all die. I checked the states right before I walked out. They’re still hovering around 100%. People die. We’re all gonna die. And the reason we’re like shocked (I can’t believe he died! I can’t believe she died!), the reason we’re shocked is we all live in a low-grade denial that death happens to someone else and not us. We’re all gonna die. You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die. The wages of sin is death. The compensation for our conduct is condemnation. If we got what we deserved it would be separation. This Grand Canyon-like gap from God. God, though, said, “No way. I love you too much. I don’t care where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what you haven’t done.” God loves you. You’re the object of God’s love so much that he gave his best. Jesus is the bridge.
Think about the cross. You’ve got the vertical and the horizontal. The cross-bar is the bridge deck. We get to God through Christ.
“Wow. Surely there are many different bridges that get to God.” It sounds really sexy and cool. Well, if there were many different ways to get to God, God wouldn’t have sent his only son to shed his blood on Calvary! That’s like saying, “You know what? I could just start dialing randomly any number, Ed, and I can get your cell phone number. I’ll just start dialing and I will call you. It’s only one number. You have only one cell phone number. You only have one.”
Jesus said, not “I am one of the ways,” he said John 14:6, “I am the way. I am the bridge.” And right before Jesus died he said, “It is finished.” The work has been done, the bridge has been built.
So what do we do? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. You’ve come to the bridge. You’ve come to the bridge. You’ve come to the bridge. There’s no excuse. The bridge is amazing! It’s awesome! What an architectural feat. Jesus took the weight of your sin and mine upon his shoulders. Sin couldn’t hold him. Sin couldn’t incarcerate him. Totally righteous. Victory over sin. Conquered the grave. Death couldn’t hold him. God offers you and me the same power that brought Jesus back from the grave. Because God specializes in taking the dead and bringing them back to life.
“Ed, my marriage is dead.” The same power that brought Christ back is available in your marriage.
“Well my dreams are dashed. My dreams are dead!” The same power that brought Christ back from the grave is available in your life.
“But Ed, this dependency I have on chemicals, this addiction, this hurtful habit, this toxicity that I deal with in relationships…” The same power that brought Jesus back from the grave is available in your life. And the Scriptures say, also, this is such a cool verse. It says, “The steps of a man (or a woman) are established by the Lord and he delights in the way.” So every step we take is ordained by God, and the steps he desires for you and me to take are the steps across the bridge.
Because when we cross the bridge, what happens? Our souls are power-washed. We live forever in Heaven. We discover our purpose, our strength. We have a clear conscience, a power over weakness. We’re saved, rescued. God did all of the work. The only thing God didn’t do is choose for you and me.
We’re not puppets, muppets, or robots. We’re made in God’s image. You know what that means? We choose to walk the bridge or not. No one forces me to love Lisa, I choose to love Lisa. No one forces Lisa to love me. She chooses that. When we said, “I do” 30 years ago we didn’t realize the implications of that decision. We’re realizing those implications more and more each and every day. Those who are married are like, yeah! You better believe it! That’s right! And the same is true as you walk the bridge. As you walk the bridge, when you make this choice to walk the bridge, you don’t realize after you walk the bridge the implications of this decision.
Well, how do I walk the bridge? I’m glad you’re asking. First of all you’ve gotta trash the mini-bridge. The bridge to nowhere. The bridge to death. Throw away your hardhat, your goggles, the Red Wings. Throw away the tool belt. Because we can’t get to God. What does God do? Read the Bible. God demands righteousness. Jesus was and is the righteousness so he’s the just and the justifier. God demands holiness. Jesus: perfectly holy. God demands a blood sacrifice. Jesus was that blood sacrifice. He is the just and the justifier. He has paid the way. He’s built the bridge. We just choose it.
Well how do we do it? 1) We say, OK, I believe to the best of my ability that God has a great plan for my life, that is abundant and eternal. Why aren’t most people expediting these incredible plans? 2) Second step – Our sins have sequestered us from God. We have a Grand Canyon-like gap separating ourselves from the Lord. A bridge we cannot build. A bridge that falls miserably short. 3) God’s remedy for our sin situation is Jesus. We burn the bridge. God built the bridge. And we choose to cross the bridge. The cross is a bridge, we have a bridge to cross. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. There were other people who died on crosses, but only one conquered the grave.
You go to the tombs of other world religious leaders, other people who founded faith groups, they are occupied. Christ’s tomb, empty. That’s the power.
And the fourth step, 4) It’s your call for God’s all. It’s your move. It’s your choice.
So, four steps. God has a great plan for my life that’s abundant and eternal. The plan is blocked because of this distance, this gulf. God bridged the gap from his side to man’s side. And it’s our choice.
Now as I was thinking through this whole Easter experience I was like, OK. Maybe I could give everybody a tool belt and a hardhat and safety goggles. And then maybe like at the apex of the service we could all throw off the tool belt, hardhat, safety goggles, and like, I’m stopping the human construction plan. I’m stopping the religious deal and I’m getting into the relationship. I’m gonna receive and cross the bridge. But then I thought, it’s too expensive. It’d be a free-for-all. That’d be crazy. So our construction team built this unbelievable bridge to hold people. And I thought, you know, Jesus always called people out publically.
Sometimes I talk to people and they go, “Well, my faith is a private thing.” And that’s true. That’s part of it. Your faith, my faith, is a private decision. But, there are no private Christ-followers in Scripture. None. None. Jesus said in Matthew 10:31, “If you confess me before men I will confess you before my Father.” So yeah, it’s a private decision but we make it public. Every time Christ calls someone he called them publically.
So I thought, how can we make it hard? How can we make it difficult? The bridge. So we have a bridge at every single one of our environments. And in a couple of moments I’m gonna challenge you to pray a bridge prayer. I’m gonna challenge you to pray a bridge-crossing prayer. Because we have scores of people who have never prayed a bridge-crossing prayer.
And after you pray the prayer, it’s gonna be up in your grill. It’s gonna take some boldness. I’m gonna challenge you to stand and come down front at all of our locations. We will have people to help you. And as a physical, a public reminder of this private decision that was just secured, I’m gonna ask you and challenge you to walk the bridge. We’ve had hundreds to walk the bridge. We’ve had children to walk the bridge. Students to walk the bridge. We’ve had people who have just gotten out of prison several weeks ago to walk the bridge. We had an all-pro professional football player to walk the bridge. Different people, different ages and stages of life. Maybe some kid needs to say, “I’m gonna cross the bridge.” Mom and Dad, walk across the bridge with them. Maybe your friend that is here that you invited, maybe you turn to them and say, “Hey, do you want to walk the bridge? I’ll walk the bridge with you.” But I want to challenge you to do that after we pray the bridge prayer.
The cross is a bridge. We’ve got a bridge to cross. “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, Ed.” You’ve come to it. Now cross the bridge. Are you ready? Let’s pray.
Ed prays: God, I want to pray a prayer right now that was the prayer I prayed years ago and was my bridge-crossing prayer, a prayer that many here have prayed, and some need to pray. Just pray this with me. If you’ve never prayed it before, pray this with me. Just say:
God – #1 – Step 1 – I believe you love me and have a great plan for my life.
The second step – God, I admit to you the obvious, that I have messed up, that I’m a sinner, that there is distance between myself and you.
Third step – I believe that, God, you sent Jesus Christ to be the bridge, to die on the cross for my junk, for my mistakes, for my iniquities. And right now I turn to you and receive you into my life. Power-wash my soul. Forgive me, cleanse me. Show me what it means to be a follower. Give me the ability to bridge those relationships for you. Thank you for saving me, God, for rescuing me.
As our heads are bowed and eyes are closed, if you said that prayer for the first time would you lift your hand? If you crossed the bridge for the first time, hands going up. Yep, in the back, all over the place. On the side, way up in the balcony. I got you. Yep. In our overflow areas, just lift your hand. Our different environments, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Miami, South Carolina, if you’re online, lift your hand. Thank you. Put those hands down.
Now, I’m going to close this pray down by saying amen. And after I say amen I’m gonna count to three. 1-2-3. After I say amen, on the count of 3 I want all of us to stand at all of our environments. I want all of us to stand. If you raised your hand to pray that bridge prayer, I’m gonna ask you to stand and make your way down front and to walk over the bridge. After you walk over the bridge just return to your seat. And we’re gonna cheer for you, because I believe many people need to walk the bridge. Again, you might be in overflow, you might be in the balcony, you might be on the back seat, the back row. At our South Carolina campus, or Fort Worth, somewhere else. It’s time for you to get up and go. The good news of Easter, the good news of Christianity is the bridge has been built. We ask all these things, God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
On the count of 3, don’t hesitate. 1 – This is your day. You cannot become a follower of Christ any time. You have to seize the moment. 2 – I’m talking to everyone. 3 – Let’s stand and you come forward and cross the bridge. I’ll be here waiting for you. I know it takes boldness. I know it takes courage. I know it takes guts. It’s time to cross the bridge. God bless you.
This is so, so thrilling. Just for a second. You know, God is here. He’s moving, he’s been moving in such an amazing way this Easter. And every person that walked across the bridge, they have a story. They have a story as they cross the bridge, like we all do. And that’s the power of the church. Fellowship Church is about Jesus. We’re the body of Christ, and the body of Christ is a bridge, isn’t it? That’s what we’re about. So we’re so, so thrilled about all of these decisions that were made, these crossings that were made here and at all of our environments.
[Ed closes with connect card info.]