FOCUS 40 Devotional 38

Building Bridges Day 38

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times that amount.” —Luke 19:7–8

Most of us have some negative feelings about evangelism. Rob Bell describes the guy with the bull horn screaming at people passing by that they need Jesus. I find it interesting that people far from Christ were attracted to Jesus. What was his secret? One of my favorite Bible stories is found in Luke 19:1–9, the story of Zacchaeus.

What I find most interesting about the story is that Jesus does not begin with the obvious: Zacchaeus is far from Christ. He is a sinner. Instead, Jesus begins by inviting himself to dinner. Truly a man after my own heart. What was Jesus doing? He was building a bridge so the gospel could be heard. He was demonstrating a true concern for Zacchaeus, the man, not the spiritual scalp.

Sometimes I share with my church the concept of seven touches; there is another one called five touches. Basically the concept is we need to build relationships with people so we can share the good news of Christ. Those bridges can be sports or a lunch. While I was pastor at Lexington, at one time we had four or five people coming to church through bridges built while working out at Gold’s Gym. When you think about the whole gospel message, it is about relationships, a relationship with God and a relationship with others. Relationships are by nature messy. It is easier to preach to someone than it is to get involved in their life. When I came to White Chapel and we began to pray for the families in our community, I warned them that the families in our community had messy lives, and if we were going to pray for them, we would have to get involved in the mess. That has proven true. Various people over the years have made this statement, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is our acts of love that give us the open door to share God’s love. So when you pray for someone far from Christ, realize this means you must be willing to get involved in lives that can be messy lives. Transforming Hearts…Transforming Lives!

Dear Father, as I pray for people I know who are far from Christ, I realize their lives are a mess. I am willing to get involved in their mess if it means I can build a bridge to you. My prayer is that you will show me how to build that bridge. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 Dr. Steve Birch, Pastor, White Chapel Church of God, South Daytona, Florida

Copyright © 2011 by Church of God Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. This document may be downloaded, reprinted, or distributed free of charge for ministry and educational purposes provided that the copyright notice on this page appears without modification. The contents of the booklet may not be modified or abridged in any way, and this electronic version of the booklet MAY NOT BE RESOLD in any print or electronic format.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked Phillips are taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, 1962 edition, published by Harper Collins.

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