Are You Building the Bridge on the River Kwai?
Copyright 2003 by William Meisheid (9/03/03) Ý
Early Sunday morning I was listening to WRBS, our
local Christian radio station, casually enjoying the presentation by Ravi
Zacharias, when something he said hit home to my core and bolted me out of
bed with my mind startled at the implications. The consequence of the image
burning itself into my brain was so clear that I felt as if I had a vision;
I even startled my wife. While Ravi was using the image in another context,
its clarity to the current situation I and my church were facing seemed
undeniable. Let me explain.
Ravi's message was how Christianity was unique in the
religions of mankind in that it not only offered propitiation of sin, but
also the power to change yourself so that you no longer were a slave to sin.
He illustrated this difference with a famous story and movie, The Bridge
on the River Kwai. In the story, which is based on
historical events, the head of the British prisoner contingent reaches
an accommodation with his captors after a test of wills. The Japanese will
make certain concessions and the British will build the bridge over the
river. The prisoners compromised with the enemy, helping them advance their
agenda, albeit for better treatment.
In Ravi's message, the prisoners are Christians held
captive by their sin and the bridge is compromising with the enemy in a way
that doesn't break the bonds of sin in our lives. The only solution is the
one taken at the close of the movie and that is to blow up the bridge. For
the Christian that is embracing the power of Christ to defeat the cycle of
sin in our lives, even if we have to do it one sin at a time, even if we
have to do it more than once.
All well and good, but how does that apply to the
Episcopal Church, my church, and me? What I saw in that moment of
inspiration was that we biblical Christians in the Episcopal Church are like
the British prisoners in the movie. We are held captive while a real enemy
has taken hold of the church and is advancing its agenda. To get better
treatment, to be left alone, we help them build their bridge, saying to
ourselves we can use the bridge too. We make little compromises, hoping for
a better day. Until one day, like the eruption of recent events surrounding
the election of Bishop Robinson, we realize that we have only succeeded in
building a bridge for the enemy to advance their agenda and our only option,
beside leaving entirely, is to blow up the bridge, to stop being an enabler.
From all that I read about the larger Anglican
Communion and the dissenters within the Episcopal Church everyone is coming
to the same conclusion, it is time to blow up the bridge. It should not
surprise us that we are in this predicament. Jesus was very explicit in John
17 that he sends us into the world but we are not to be of it. As a matter
of fact he assures us that the world will hate us, even as it hated him,
since we are his. He further warns us Matthew 10 that our enemies will be in
our own household. For us, in this circumstance, that is the household of
So each of us has a choice, a personal
nexus point. Do we continue to build the bridge on
the River Kwai or do we blow it up? For Ravi Zacharias and myself sadly the
answer is clear.