Stepping Outside the Christian Bubble to Obey Jesus

I want to tell you something that I’m afraid of for myself, my local church, and the Church in America (especially the South).  I’m afraid of the Christian sub-culture and the negative effect it can have on our obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.  The Christian sub-culture is a culture we have created within the larger culture of our cities.  It serves as a bubble of separation from the secular world, and it is nice and safe inside.  Let me tell you what’s inside – there’s encouragement, people serving you and praying for you, very little profanity if any, everyone talks about how good God is, the movies are clean, everyone agrees on the most fundamental issues, if there’s alcohol it’s only in small doses, you can understand all the lyrics to the music, when asked how we’re doing everyone answers “I’m blessed”, and the only risk you take is sending your kids to children’s church knowing that they could develop a mild addiction to lemonade and goldfish crackers.  The Christian bubble is comfortable, but you probably already knew that.  We stay in the Christian bubble by coming to the worship service on Sundays, Bible studies during the week, going home to our Christian families, going out to eat at Chik-fil-A, shopping at Lifeway and Hobby Lobby, hanging out with our Christian friends, and spending as little time around unbelievers as possible.

Now, of course, I am exaggerating, but perhaps not much.  In our Southern, Bible-belt culture it is not that hard to avoid the world; to avoid unbelievers, and therefore, to avoid the commandments Jesus has given us that can only be obeyed in purposeful interaction with the lost – “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  One Christian radio station in town boasts that they’re “safe for the whole family”.  I understand what they’re saying – that they’re music is not scattered with immorality and obscenities and parents don’t have to keep turning down the volume or switching stations.  But my question is, “Have we taken this idea of safety from the world to seed?”  Meaning, have we taken the command to remain unstained by the world to the extreme that says “avoid unbelievers” or at least, “avoid behavior that is too holy and conversations where words like ‘sin’ or ‘Jesus’ are used”.

In an attempt to be a holy people, we have we given Christianity shoulder pads, shin guards, helmets, and a bullet-proof vest when Jesus is saying “Trust me and do what I say”.  Let us not forget the tension in Christianity where striving for moral purity and influencing the world for Christ are both commands we must obey – we cannot forsake one for the other.  Christianity involves great risk – you risk your comfort, your reputation, your safety, your possessions, your job, your relationships, and so on.  If we’re going to be men and women who are committed to our great Master, then we’ve got to stop protecting our comfort and step outside of the Christian bubble both spatially and relationally.

 

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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

4 responses to “Stepping Outside the Christian Bubble to Obey Jesus

  • lbtk

    Brent, honey (that’s the Southern Mama in me) have you been reading my mind? I live in North Carolina and in our primary last week, we (as a state) voted against an amendment that dealt with gay marriage, the living arrangement between unmarried heterosexual people, and some little items thrown in for good measure.

    I am a Christian. I believe that marriage is one man – one woman. But I have a huge problem with how my Christian brothers and sisters treated each other. I saw friends cursing each other out on Facebook, “unfriending” each other, and at least one of my friends lost a longtime friend because (as she stated) “If you can’t support me in this, you cannot be my friend.” Now, their friendship of over twenty years is shattered.

    My reply to all of this hatred was that Jesus gave us two commandments: to love God and to love each other. At the polls, I saw demonstrators arguing and calling names. I went into the polling place crying and left the same way.

    We can make all the laws we want or shoot down all the laws we want, but God is watching us treat each other with disrespect and hatred. The churches of the South are going to lose the battle to outreach to people who are culturally different than they are. My righteous anger is working overtime.

    Pray for me. I am fixing (that’s another good Southern term) to start a Bible study for young mothers. Our church is in the middle of three neighborhoods where drugs, violence, and thievery are prevalent. It is low income housing. We have been looking for an “in” to these community neighborhood for years.

    My son and his girlfriend live in one of these neighborhoods, They have a daughter — my granddaughter, Joshlyn. Steven and Casey and Joshlyn are at church every Sunday. They are welcomed and loved — but they are my children. I don’t think anyone would be mean to them out of respect for me.

    Casey’s background is sketchy where church is concerned. She is a beautiful girl with a lovely spirit who would do anything to please people. My son is in transition and their living together is something I have addressed, but I love him regardless.

    Two weeks ago, Casey called me and said that she and 7 other girls with babies less than a year old (all unmarried, in a variety of situations) wanted ME to lead them in a weekly Bible study. I don’t want anyone in our church to say anything untoward. I don’t care what they THINK as long as they don’t express it because we had a pastor 4 years ago that announced to several community leaders that if he could afford another place to live, he would vacate our parsonage and live somewhere “nice.” THAT’S what our church as been living down these past 4 years. The neighborhood used to bring their children to VBS but when word got our that the pastor at our church implied that it was a “bad” community, we have not had any participation from the community in VBS or children’s programs at all. Very, very sad.

    Our church has been praying and I believe this is our “in” to these communities. I see this as a huge step forward for my granddaughter as well. If her mother belongs to Jesus, Joshlyn will grow up in a Christian home because Steven is a forgiven child of God.

    I know this has been long and I apologize, but I felt that this post spoke to me in such a bold way. Pray with me, Brent. I want our church to buck the system of the Southern Bible-belt attitudes. Thanks for letting me vent. Sandy

    • Lisa Marie Campagnoli

      I will pray for you. I have a different problem which is what caused me to search on “Christian Bubble” and find this blog. 21 years ago, I was challenged by Chuck Colson’s book The Body in the area of “Chrisitan speak.” I was too young a Christian to know “Christian speak” but I desperately wanted to learn it to fit in–until I read that book. My husband was not a believer, and I was forced to choose: Christian bubble behavior and alienate my young husband who didn’t sign up for this Christian stuff when we got married as unbelievers or remain relevant to culture and to him and his unbelieving friends and risk not being considered “spiritually mature.” It did not take long to understand that God was calling me to lifestyle evangelism–something that I still know is my calling with out a doubt. But the problem remains the same: to hang with “the tax collectors” means that I am not “bubbly” enough for my church and Christian School communities. I will not compromise and become insular for fellowship, but I have never had the fellowship that I need to support me as a walk out my calling and impart it’s importance to my children. I feel tolerated in those communities at best. And sometimes it is painful. If you reach out to these women, you will be doing God’s work. Remember, as important as their “clean living” is to God, there is something that takes an even greater priority: their salvation. And just like the Holy Spirit takes care of that, He will take care of the rest in His way and in His time. God bless you for showing God’s unconditional love to these young women!

  • Jason

    Well said, Raul…well said. I just re-activated my Facebook account and lo’ and behold, I’m treated to a fantastic kernal of truth, written by my oldest friend. So thanks for this…these diffcult observations often impact us (me) the most.

    -J

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