Driving Heavy Trucks Over Old Roman Bridges

Neal Pollard

Periodically, the Bear Valley Bible Institute shows the student body Francis Schaeffer’s classic video series, “How Should We Then Live?” There is a book of the same title that covers the same essential material. A part that particularly stands out in my mind is this analogy:

“A culture or an individual with a weak base can stand only when the pressure on it is not too great. As an illustration, let us think of a Roman bridge. The Romans built little humpbacked bridges over many of the streams of Europe. People and wagons went over these structures safely for centuries, for two millennia. But if people today drove heavily loaded trucks over these bridges, they would break. It is this way with the lives and value systems of individuals and cultures when they have nothing stronger to build on than their own limitedness, their own finiteness. They can stand when pressures are not too great, but when pressures mount, if then they do not have a sufficient base, they crash—just as a Roman bridge would cave in under the weight of a modern six-wheeled truck. Culture and the freedoms of people are fragile. Without a sufficient base, when such pressures come only time is needed and often not a great deal of time-before there is a collapse” (transcript via thedailyhatch.org, Everette Hatcher III).

His point is clear. When a culture’s base is atheism (there is no God), evolution (we are the product of mindless, aimless chance), materialism and humanism (things are god and man is the supreme authority), and hedonism (pleasure is the highest good), it can survive, at least for a time, in the absence of trial and pressure.  However, when a culture is subjected to tests and challenges, it only has its foundation to stand upon.

It is in times of pressure that passages we may see as simplistic and straightforward take on profound new meaning.  Ending His great sermon teaching about this very principle, Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matt. 7:24-27). Those word pictures make an ideal children’s song for Bible Class and VBS, but they also contain an imperative message for every society.  We cannot reject God and His Word, replace it with inferior substitutes, and remain in peace, prosperity, and protection. Jesus’ warning has eternal implications regarding everlasting destiny, but how often has Proverbs 14:34 played out in a society that removes its bedrock foundation to build its life on shifting sand?

Our task, as God’s people, is to double down our commitment to take the gospel to our neighbors (Matt. 28:18-20) and spread the message that hope and peace comes through submitting to the authority of Christ and His word and living by this as the pattern of life. What a beautiful transformation the Christian life provides us, no matter what frightening things happen around us. There is no test or pressure weighty enough to make that foundation crumble!

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