Posted by Craig Borlase on 1 April 2013


Earning £1,000 a month might not make you feel rich, but 90% of the people on the planet are poorer than you. Craig Borlase asks us what life in this bubble is doing to us.
I live in a bubble. Not a real one, you understand, but a virtual one kept in place by a culture that keeps me safe from things that I’d rather not face. Like poverty. Like hunger. Like images of starving children using their last breath to plea for help. My bubble lets me change the channel quickly and grab another treat from the fridge.
And here’s what I hate about the bubble: my faith says it shouldn’t be there at all. My beliefs tell me that it’s not right that all 60 million of us in the UK have access to clean drinking water while three quarters of those in Ethiopia don’t. I know there’s something wrong when one in three children in the UK live in poverty. It can’t be right when the doorway of my favourite junk food retailer is the bed of choice for so many homeless.
Of course I don’t like the bubble, and I’m constantly fighting my way out. What helps most is joining the dots between the past and the present. A couple of millennia ago Jesus said that ‘a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’ [Luke 12:15]. I need to constantly ask if my life shows that I believe this. Am I living it out loud when I’m stuffing my face on food I’ve no room for? Am I proof of its reality when I’m dreaming about the next Must Have Toy that I want so badly? Does my integrity look a little thin when my worship fails to match up to my lifestyle?
And this is where it all gets vital. If I’m really going to sing those songs, to tell God of my devotion and desire to be one of those living sacrifices, then I’d better not get too cosy in the bubble. If not, we end up like the worshippers that God had something to say to through the prophet Isaiah.
There they were, doing what they were convinced was all the right stuff - praying, fasting, worshipping and all that - but God didn’t seem to be listening. 'Why have we fasted,' they complained, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' [Isaiah 58:3]
Finally they got their answer.
Firstly God questioned their integrity. He said that their words just didn’t match their lifestyle:
‘…on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.’ [Isaiah 58: 3-5]
We need check ourselves out too. Does the way we shop, the way we dress, the way we bank contribute to or combat the injustice we sing about? Which screams loudest to God, my words or my actions?
Actions really do speak louder, more than any heartfelt song. He made it clear precisely what he was after when he addressed the Israelites:
‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?’ [Isaiah 58:6-7]
Without the action, the practical acts of kindness and mercy, we settle back into our bubble. Our words stay there with us.
Finally the words given to Isaiah reveal just how close the relationship is between our worship of God and our lifestyle. What God wants from us is a life-long commitment to worship him and in doing so to love others. He wants more than the words that say how we want to do the good stuff, he wants to actually see it all put into action too. God wants us to step out of the bubble and start to live for something other than our own satisfaction. He wants us to live beyond our own wish-lists. He wants us to:
‘…spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday….you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.’ [Isaiah 58:10-12]
Inside the bubble it’s all about me: my wants, my needs, my aims and ambitions. Outside it’s all about Him: His desire for an army of people that choose worship that is simple, plain and effective because it is fair, right, impartial, honest, honourable, righteous, moral, and truthful. Outside the bubble you can hear the sounds and see the sights of a type of worship that makes a difference to him, to us, for others and for good. Outside the bubble the air is cleaner. And I’ve heard the view is pretty good there too.

 

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