West Ham football club fans have a song they often sing at matches in which they sing about blowing bubbles. I feel that as a church this is something we have been guilty of for far too long, and it is time to get out some pins and get bursting bubbles.
In John 17 Jesus prays for the church and in that pray he makes it clear that though we are not of the world we are to remain in it and shine for Him. Yet Christian culture today seems to have set up many ‘safe bubbles’ where we can avoid contact with the secular world.
We have Christian TV stations, Christian radio stations, Christian festivals, Christian holiday companies, a whole Christian Contemporary Music industry (and while some of it is quite good, the whole profit making side of that comes with music industries seems a little out of synch with the early church’s policy of pooling their wealth and possessions), Christian bookshops, Christian scientist organisations, Christian political parties, Christian clothing, even Christian lawyers. At every opportunity we seem to be building walls between us and the secular world – “we’re not like that/them”, looking down on it with a false air of superiority (all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God re: Romans 3v23)
There are some pretty major bubbles that need broken so that we can connect with the real world which we have been called to go out and make disciples off. (We weren’t called to have good worship service, write bestselling books, produce great sounding music or create stylish clothing with a relevant Christian message – those may be involved in reaching the world, but are not what we should consume ourselves with – we need to look beyond theses to the greater overall goal!
One bubble that needs to be burst is the whole notion of the “health and wealth” gospel that promises an end to pain and suffering here and now. The Bible does promise an end to pin and suffering, but says that that will come in Heaven, not here on earth.
People living in this bubble believe that when you turn to Christ, all your suffering and pain will cease. Yet Jesus tells us that when we follow Him we need to take up our cross, and that the world will hate us.
Yet in Christian bookshops you will find books devoted to showing you how to have a life of comfort and blessing. And then there are things like the Florida healing Outpouring with Todd Bently. I don’t want to comment on the authenticity of this as I don’t know all the facts, I just want to suggest that if I had the gift of healing rather than spend my time in Florida with the rich and wealthy with their back aches and migraines I would go out to Africa where people are dying from HIV, malaria, cholera and malnutrition every day. But that would mean facing up to the truth of living in a fallen world, that there are people out there hurting and dying, lost and unloved, desperately in need of us to break free from the bubbles of Christian culture where once you meet Christ all is good, wake up to the reality of the world we find beyond the boundaries of our comfortable bubble, and resolve to do something about it.
Then there is the whole Christian media bubble. Don’t get me wrong, I think Christian radio stations etc are a great idea (especially All4God radio!), and a great help. But we should not confine our creative talents to the Christian media bubble. We need to let them break out into the secular world that needs to hear the messages of songs by the likes of Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin and Delirious much more than we do. Rather than being content with the fact that there are Christian radio stations we can listen to, we should be trying to get Christian artists onto mainstream radio. Because the world needs to hear the message of Christianity much more than we do. So let’s break the bubble of Christian media.
And then there is the bubble of Christian Jobs, whereby if you want to use your job to serve God you either become a minister or youth worker or work for a Christian charity/ministry group. Yet maybe what the world needs more than anything is just Christians doing ordinary jobs to the glory of god, shining for Him in schools, factories, dentist’s receptions, chip shops, libraries, shopping malls, the list goes on and on. Rather than believe that to reach people we have to go into full-time mission we simply need to be a witness for him in our workplace or school. If all outreach is done by professional ministry workers, a very small percentage will be reached. But if all the church saw their job as their mission field, taking opportunities to share the good news in lunch time canteen conversations, bringing up Christian topics in conversation rather than waiting to be asked questions who can imagine the impact it would have?
We won’t reach the world outside the bubble of Christian culture if we remain trapped within the bubble. We need to burst the bubbles, and get out into the real world. We may come in contact with people we look down on as unclean. We may get our hands dirty. But hopefully we will have an impact on the world, and see it changed for Christ. Will you join me in bursting the bubbles in our life?