Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Pop That Bubble! by Linden Malki
A friend of my daughter's was telling her that she didn't worry at all about her teenagers--between family, good friends, school and church they didn't have any opportunity to get into trouble. My daughter said she thought there was something wrong with this picture, but couldn't quite put her finger on it. After some thought, my suggestion was "What good are they to anybody, in the eternal sense?" In the context of the book we are reading,* the question is "Are they changing their world?"
It's a temptation for Christians to want to live like my daughter's friend--in what is sometimes called the Christian Bubble. It reminds me a bit of what Nehemiah felt called to make of the Jerusalem of 400BC. After a thousand years of patriarchs and prophets telling them what God needed for them to be the people He intended them to be, and then getting involved with bad stuff with bad neighbors, cleaning up their act, and falling in the mud again, Nehemiah closed them off from the outside world. If you look at Isaiah, Zecheriah, Amos, Jonah, and most of the other prophets, you see that the "Chosen People" were called to be a pilot project; to show God to the world. Instead, in finally facing God, they turned their backs to their neighbors. Their descendants, faced with Jesus, were horribly frustrated and eventually murderous because He wouldn't fit in their bubble. Jesus' mission was to enable us to withstand evil through His strength and His Grace, not by avoiding outsiders but overcoming their bad influences by putting on His armor and showing something better. Those outside His Kingdom often live in bubbles as well, and are not always willing to look beyond their own selves. Our calling is to live, as Jesus said, in the world but not of it. The Church has always been built on those who are willing to have their bubbles popped, and spiritual soap splattered on them.
* Tom Mercer, "8 to 15:The World Is Smaller Than You Think"