Bubbles are fun. I recently watched a video clip of a woman who entertains people all over the world with bubbles. She does amazing things with various size tools that help form massive and then tiny bubbles, fill them with smoke, split them, build with them and utterly mesmerize her audience with her beautiful artistry set to compelling music. Her finale ends with putting herself inside a bubble only to pop it from inside with an expressive gesture of freedom. It really was mesmerizing and incredible.
It made me think of the church and something that I have found to be unhealthy and dangerous to the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many good church going Christians live in what I and others call the Christian Bubble. The bubble is the place where many Christians prefer to live surrounded by like-minded, caring people, consistent and predictable worship services, programs for the kids and some for the adults, outreach projects now and again and an all-around comfortableness. Everyone by and large thinks the same, sends their kids to the same school, expect the same things, patronize one another’s’ places of business… you get the picture. Everything is kept “in house” as close as possible. It feels safe and predictable.
Now I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s vital that the family of God care for one another and teach the Bible among other things. That closeness can really help people and bless people within the group. It’s certainly something the Bible calls us to. We see it all through the book of Acts and the early church.
BUT, what I have discovered is that what “the bubble” can and often breeds is harmful and dangerous to the spreading of the gospel. People can get so comfortable within that environment that they rarely if ever leave it to venture forth for the sake of the message of Christ which is also a key component of the church — be disciples who make disciples. The bubble can and usually does breed isolation and, as I will examine from here forward, a great wall, road blocks and many habits that separate people in the church from the world and what God is doing all around them and hence, crippling the church in bringing and being the good news of Jesus. Some of you may feel uncomfortable at this point, squirming to figure out a rebuttal and some level of justification, but hear me out and prayerfully consider my claims.
For the next while I will be writing a series of blogs specifically focusing on the Christian Bubble. I once lived in that bubble but thank God everyday that I am free from it.
Let me ask, when was the last time you shared your story of faith to someone far from God? When is the last time you spent any significant time with a neighbour or colleague who needed the presence of Jesus in their life who wasn’t from the church community? Have you ever led someone to realize Christ as their Saviour? Have you ever caught yourself thinking or speaking about people not in the church as “those people” or “them” suggesting an “us and them” dichotomy? Do you pretty much keep your friendships within the church? How have you sacrificially changed your regular life routines to regularly and intentionally invest time and energies (not so much about money investment here) to partner in a community endeavour across religious and nonreligious lines? As a parent, how have you modelled unconditionally grace and a mission focus for your children to emulate? When you join a sports team is it a church team and/or in a Christian league? How often have you modelled your life around the idea that evangelism is the job of the trained pastors and missionaries or somebody else who is “gifted”? Who have you walked and journeyed with through thick and thin who was far from a relationship with Jesus? Have you ever thought, I don’t want my kids playing with that kid because his parents are not Christians or worse still, because they don’t send their kids to Christian school? Do you find that you categorize your personal scheduling to first do what you want and then giving just a small token bit of time to serving in the church because it’s your duty? When you do choose a church-programmed project, is it based on your level of comfort or a willingness to do whatever is necessary to meet that need? Are your prayers focused on your needs more than anyone elses? Better still, do you avoid praying, “Thy will be done… even if it means you’re asking me to do it?” or, “Here I am Holy Spirit, work in me for your purposes no matter what?” There are more questions for this list, but I’ll stop here because I’m sure you’re getting the idea.
If you answered “yes” to any of these and/or felt extremely uncomfortable with any of them, you probably live in that Christian Bubble. And I guarantee you God doesn’t want you to stay there. He has so much more for you. In fact he has utter freedom, blessing and personal spiritual growth that you cannot begin to imagine. It’s funny how we strive so hard to “be the person God wants us to be” without ever really letting ourselves go to the Spirit’s power and the will of God. What happens is that we THINK we’re doing well on our own when in reality we’re missing out all that God has for us.
Here’s what I’m going to attempt to cover as we unfold breaking out of the Christian Bubble:
- Identifying the Roadblocks and Blind Spots.
- Identity Amnesia: What Really is the Church?
- Holding on to Comfort and Missing the Calling.
- Limiting the Holy Spirit’s Work
- Bursting the Bubble and Allowing the Gospel to Flow Freely.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey, be challenged, dialogue and find some freedom. I really hope the Holy Spirit will burst your bubble.
’til next time,