Pastor of Noble Avenue Baptist Church
In 1965, the Interstate 40 Crosstown Bridge was built just south of downtown Oklahoma City. It was a wonderful way to move traffic through Oklahoma City, and proved to be a wonderful asset as it enhanced the flow of traffic through Oklahoma City.
However, the passage of time, heavy traffic flow, and exposure to the elements made that long, old bridge more of a danger than an asset. The bridge began to crumble and threaten the safety of the thousands of people who traveled the old Interstate 40 bridge every day. It was not uncommon for the Highway Department to be forced to close several lanes of traffic to repair potholes in this crumbling structure. Driving on that old bridge was not only a danger but also was often an annoyance.
The opening of the new Interstate 40 has made it possible now to “deconstruct” (tear down) this old, crumbling bridge. Like so many others, I’m thankful and delighted that those in power did not ignore the growing danger and annoyance of that old, crumbling bridge.
I’m trying to learn a lesson from that old bridge and from those who have had the clarity of mind, the willingness, and the courage to do something about it. I have come to realize that I am not always aware of or willing to admit some attitudes, behaviors, or long-held opinions that are more of an annoyance or even a danger than they are an asset to my life.
Here is where St. Paul’s letters to some of those earliest followers of Jesus Christ is helpful to me. St. Paul suggests that attitudes, behaviors and long-held opinions such as hatred, disharmony, jealousy, fits of rage, selfishness, gossip, envy, depersonalizing everyone into a rival, and joyless grabs for happiness are not only annoying but also dangerous and destructive and need to be done away with.
St. Paul then goes on to suggest that as we deconstruct (tear down) those old attitudes, behaviors and opinions, we replace them with such attitudes, behaviors and long-held opinions as affection for all others, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, exuberance about life, and the commitment to speak only words that are helpful for building others up according to their needs.
So now I’m hoping that the old bridge that is now being torn down will be a reminder to me of my old attitudes, behaviors and long-held opinions that have become annoying and even dangerous and need to be done away with. I pray for the clarity of mind, the desire and courage to do whatever is necessary to make the repairs and changes that I need to make. I am pretty sure that I will be thankful and delighted when those changes are made, and I am almost positive those around me will too.