Bridge-Building Through Amazing Grace

 The author of the most famous hymn in Christian history, John Newton, was an expert bridge-builder – in relationships. He was a staunch Calvinist who accepted and even associated with Arminians. He was an Anglican who encouraged and preached in independent churches. He was a friend of the wealthy, while a pastor to the poor.

He stood for the truth as he built bridges with the truth. He even brought together clergy and laity which were known to be antagonistic and disrespectful to each other during the 1750’s. At one point, Newton had to bribe an angry mob of clergy to keep them from burning down his own house.

As a teenager and son of a slave trader, the Great Awakening was spurred forward by this gawky teen who was an example of God’s Amazing Grace. When asked how he did it? His response was two-fold. First, his theological convictions were steadfast, though not preventing friendships with the worldly. Secondly, he fostered broad personal relationships while ministering to the needy and giving hope to the hopeless.

God has called us to reach all people (Matthew 29:19) in our community. Diversity, then, must be a priority. Any church that takes seriously the Great Commission is going to have to be intentional about diversity. 

Our main thrust, however, must not be diversity, but rather reconciliation. The Bible is all about reconciliation. First, reconciling us with God, and then reconciling Jews and Gentiles, reconciling parents to their children, and husbands with their wives. The mandate of Christ is very clear here: love your neighbors; make disciples of all nations. Mobberly is only going to increase in intentionality and effectiveness so we can reach everybody we can. That doesn’t mean that we will be equally effective with everyone. But, if we can’t reach them with what we are already doing, we MUST do something different. 

But first let’s examine ourselves. How firm are my convictions? And how broad are my relationships?