The Bridge is really all about Jesus and what He has done on the cross! Firstly, as the name suggests, The Bridge came from a burden to see the spiritual gap between God and a lost generation bridged in Christ through the literal preaching of the Gospel. Secondly, it’s also about bridging the relational gap in our society- where people have little or no time for each other- both in the family and workplace. The Bridge is not less, but more than an event. Over a little after 2 years of doing this, I’ve learned that proactive events can lead to reactive events. The Bridge has, by God’s grace, paved the way into university Jazz festivals where we get to connect with the lost generations. Someone recently said, “Jesus is cool!” That’s coming from someone who has no concept of God (no Judeo-Christian worldview in their cultural soil). We hope it will climax in the doxology that “Jesus is Lord!” You can read more about: The Story Behind The Bridge.
PRAYER: We’ve outgrown our space and people are starting to feel a little uncomfortable. So please pray for a new venue. Venues and Live Houses are extremely expensive in Tokyo (but possible with our God). We will be meeting at our home this December 7th with several of the people that came to this recent event. Please pray for us. If you’d like to support this outreach, please go here.
THE BRIDGE (MESSAGE). Here is an outline of my talk below (not in detail) from The Bridge 7th this time. In the last 10 years of being here, I’ve been made to feel a reverse guilt from others who are too afraid to talk about the whole Gospel when they meet with non-Christians. The mind-set is often: “Don’t talk about sin, and hell” and so on. This, they assume, is because people don’t like to hear about sin and hell (well, they’re not supposed to like it, and that’s the whole point of preaching. We don’t want them to go there and they shouldn’t like sin which will lead them to hell). But after preaching at The Bridge for the past two years, I’ve learned that Japanese can handle hell. Ancestor worship is literally a worship of dead spirits, which is motivated largely by fear to please the dead spirits. In this regard, Japanese are very spiritual and they are aware of the spiritual evil world ( and I would say: hell). Anyway, here’s my outline. This was preached to mainly non-Christian audiences, some of whom have heard the Gospel several times while others heard this for the first time.
THE PURSUIT OF JOY.
There’s a saying that “He who fails to learn from history is bound to repeat its mistakes.” So, today let’s take a look into the Bible— which is still the world’s best selling book.
In the bible we find a very rich King by the name of Solomon (BC 970 – 931). Solomon thoroughly poured out his heart and mind in search for meaning in life. This was a King who had more wisdom, more wealth than anyone in his day. He didn’t need to look at pornography because he could have the most beautiful women on earth as his wives. He was also more famous than anyone else in his time.
All the way to the end of the book, Solomon talks about his observation of life both from study and personal experience. But over again and over again he talks about his sense of emptiness as he describes every pursuit he had undertaken—ranging from his accomplishment in wisdom, pleasure, work and material gain. And in a few words he short-lists for us from his first-hand experience, where ultimate joy cannot be found.
1. (Ecclesiastes 2) 2. Self-indulgence (v.1),
3. Amusement (v.2), 4. Stimulation (v. 3),
5. Projects (vv: 4-6), 6. Possessions (v.7),
7. Collections (v. 8a), 8. Entertainment(v. 8b),
9. Sexual pleasures (v. 8c), 10. and Fame (v. 9).
None of these, as legitimate as it seemed, brought any satisfaction in Solomon’s life because they brought only momentary pleasures. Then he sums up his pursuit of happiness in a few words in chapter 2: 10,11.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
(sounds just like us in an entertainment saturated culture today)
I refused my heart no pleasure (sounds like us living in a modern world).
My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward of my labor;
(Yes. It’s good to have your dream job and find some sense of fulfillment. And, then what?).
Yet, when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless; a chasing after the wind,
(imagine how pointless it must be to chase after the wind) nothing was gained under the sun.
Having tried all that he could grasp and his wealth could afford, Solomon found that there was a fatality and emptiness to all human endeavors.
C. S Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia) said something similar: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Solomon says- nothing was gained under the sun. So we need eyes to see beyond the sun— to the only God the Creator of the universe to find meaning and fulfillment.
The problem is not that our desires are too strong. But as Lewis once said, our problem is that our desires are too weak, and we are far too easily satisfied.
Our hearts were made for something far bigger than everything this world has to offer. Only God is big enough to bring ultimate satisfaction and joy in our hearts. In a modern day society people confuse happiness with joy. Momentary happiness comes when all things around us are well. But when troubles come, happiness runs away quickly.
We play with so many toys in a Disney Land type of society but that can never satisfy us. Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God who created us. Alexander the Great conquered all-the known world in his day. But, he wept bitterly in his tent and said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.” Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of money. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”
The more we keep pursuing what we think would bring us ultimate happiness, we will find that when we get to the top- the happiness we were looking for is only momentary and it does not last.
But there’s Good News. Centuries after Solomon, Jesus came while Israel was under the Roman Empire. And He said: “look, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12: 42). Jesus healed the sick, He touched and healed the blind, lame people walked, He raised the dead, He calmed the storm. He touched lepers and they were cleansed.
And while He taught many things to His disciples, He said: [John 15:11] “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus is holy, and He knows all the thoughts of your heart. But Jesus knew no sin. He lived a perfect life we could not live. And He gave His life on the cross, and took the punishment for our sins. The punishment for sin is eternal hell. But God raised Jesus from the dead, so that we may receive the forgiveness of our sins. That, you may have a life of freedom from the power of sin: a life full of joy, peace, forgiveness, and love. He says: “..my joy may be in you..that your joy may be full.” Only in Jesus will you find true lasting joy.