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What is this "Bridge of Grace" that we are building?by Aramus Crane
Our vision is to be building bridges of grace between one
individual to another, from group to group, and from Italy to rebuild
the society in Romania.
1. As is God, we at Liv-n-LetLiv are heartbroken over dysfunctional relationships.
Divorce is rampant. Friendships are broken. People do not forgive, mostly because they don't love anyone but themselves. They don't love because they don't know the God of Love. Some of these people are this way because they are just starting their journey on the Way. Others are the false Christians that infect our churches like a virus.
However, even among Christians who should know better, and among missionaries who teach better, Matthew 18 is seldom used to reconcile brother to brother. God does not call us to like everyone or to paste smiles on our faces while we hold grudges. Rather, He calls us to love, to forgive, and to be reconciled. We are dedicated to building individual Bridges of Grace whenever possible, until the individual is unrepentant.
2. As is God, we are disgusted when spiteful divisions appear in the Body of Christ.
Many time the virus of non-believing attitude spreads from one person to another, causing divisions in the Church. We don't believe that all denominations should unite under one governing body. Scripture gives us liberty to be diverse. We often come to points in life where we need people who are like us and agree with us even in the details of what we believe. There are different personal tastes in musical style, church organization, etc. God creates and appreciates diversity. Man should appreciate differences in people as we do differences in flowers. Often, however, animosity and backbiting replaces respect for diversity. We are calling for pastors, leaders, and individuals to put aside individual empire-building and collaborate more to build the Kingdom of God's Grace.
What does this look like?
(The following is an event in my personal quest for this understanding: Although I still accepted Catholics and Orthodox as brothers, I thought the habit of kissing icons was eccentric at best. After speaking with them, I realized showing affection for a picture of Jesus or Mary, as some Catholics do, is not any worse, and indeed much better, than embracing a photo of deceased relatives as many old Protestant ladies would do.)
3. Ultimately, we have a vision for building a Bridge of Grace between Italy and Romania.
On the eastern side of the Bridge, people are presented with a religion that salvation is by works. One group says you cant be saved without being dunked in water or putting a rag on your head or speaking an unintelligible language. Legalism is a yoke on the spiritual and economic growth of the people. There are few places where a Bible believer can feel comfortable.
On the western side of the bridge, secular society is experiencing strategic victories over the Church. Because the Church is generally introverted and legalistic instead of being a loving messenger of Gods grace, society has cast it off as irrelevant. Few are the believers with a vision for scaling the cultural wall that separates them from society.* We want to encourage Italy and the northern Mediterranean church to a vision for reaching their Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. This, we hope to stimulate them by holding seminars in their hometowns, cross-cultural ministry in Germany, and sending missionaries to Romania.
In the center of the bridge is Munich, Germany, where we work with Romanian immigrants. While missionaries get trained for possible work in Romania, immigrants hear the Gospel. Then they take the good news back with them.
Without getting into a lot of missiology, in short and
specifically in our case we believe that Mediterranean countries like
Spain and Italy can relate to the culture, language, and history of
Romania better than we English speakers. We are less socially- and
family-oriented, don't speak a Latin-based language, and haven't lived
under communism or a dictator. In the words of Steven C. Hawthorne, this is breaking down the walls to the Gospel.
When an individual receives the call of God to believe in
Jesus Christ and become a part of the Church, His Body, he is called to
speak and live in love with his brother. That brother may be next
door, of another race or denomination, or in another country. One
cannot be indwelt with the God of Love if love is not emanating from
him or her constantly.
"He who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar. For how can he love God whom he has not seen if he does not love his brother whom he has seen?" (1 John 2)
* For a discussion of walls and canyons, read "Acts of Obedience" by Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives: A Reader or click here. Cambridge: United Kingdom 2000. p. 121