Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"By Walking the Bridges of Fulton"

“Pastor, we can start practicing the ‘walking the bridges’ part of our vision statement” is a statement I’ve heard more than a few times from people. I’m never quite sure how to respond. Typically I’ll ask for clarification; “What do you mean?” The usual reply is something akin to, “The weather is warming up, and we’ll all be more likely to walk the bridges now.” It’s usually at this point that I begin wondering if I am too serious-minded—if I’m a stick in the mud. Pushing those thoughts to the side, I’m writing this article to insure that our community is on the same page. It is true that the “walking the bridges of Fulton” could be applied literally as one walks the bridges of our community. I would never discourage someone from walking for the purpose of getting out and being active in warmer weather. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get a little exercise while building relationships, sharing Christ and growing together. The apostle Paul did tell us that physical training—even though of little benefit—still is of some benefit in and of itself (1st Timothy 4:8), right? To be clear, the point of our vision statement is that we as a faith community will greatly benefit by applying this last phrase—not literally but metaphorically—to all areas of life. The desire is that we will be a people who practice “walking the bridges” from January to December. We want to be a people who are always looking for ways of making connections with people who are without Christ, so that we earn the right to share Him and subsequently grow together with those who are responsive to that message.

One of my favorite Bible passages is found in Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 through 20—known as the Great Commission. These are Christ’s last words in the book of Matthew spoken to us. In these last words, Christ gave us a command.
Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).
It’s natural for people to read these words of Christ and make the word “GO” the focus or the main impetus. People could have approached Christ saying, “The weather is warming up Lord, soon we’ll be able to ‘go’.” If people did say that to Him, do you think He struggled? When He thought clarification was in order, do you think He wondered if He was being far too serious-minded? I’m quite certain He would have responded, “You do realize the command is to ‘make disciples,’ not to ‘go’, right?” In the original language the verb “to go” used here would have been understood as “while you are going make disciples.” It would not have mattered if it was deep winter in Jerusalem or mid-summer, the expectation would have been that the people would be going as a way of obeying the command to “make disciples.”  

As we implement our vision at FAC we hope people are seeing themselves as always “walking” so that they can Build Relationships, Share Christ, and then Grow Together with those who respond. It should not matter if you find yourself in Wal-Mart, at a local fast food establishment, the barber or a beauty shop, the hope is you will have eyes that are looking for disciple making opportunities.  The phrase “by walking the bridges of Fulton” is our way of saying “while you are going.” The phrases “Build Relationships, Share Christ and Grow Together” are our way of saying, “make disciples of all nations.”

Won’t you join us every day, every month, and every season in seeing the vision God has given FAC fulfilled?

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