Posted by Craig Borlase on 10 June 2014

Last post we were thinking about bubbles, about being trapped in a mindset that allows our lifestyle carry on uninterrupted, regardless of the world around it. It’s all very good knowing that we’re in one, but just how to we go about breaking out?
Good question.
To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve got the answers. I mean, I know that what counts is that we pursue integrity in our relationship with God, with others and as local, national and global citizens. I know that we need to be trading fairly, taking it easy on the environment and caring for the poor. I remember that Jesus had something to say about how it’s generally a pretty good idea for us to love God and those around us. But… I’m wondering: can I really make the grade? Have I got it in me to live a better life, to sing a better song, to be the sort of believer I know I ought to be. Can I really break out of the bubble?
Flick back to Genesis 18 and you’ll see how 4,000 years ago God sent three visitors to tell Abraham that his ageing wife Sarah would conceive. With the guests about to leave the scene shifts direction. God considers the depravity of the nearby city of Sodom and wonders about destroying it. Then Abraham bargains with the Almighty, seemingly bending His arm, getting God to agree that if fifty Godly people can be found that the city would be spared. God agrees. Abraham says “what about 45?” God agrees. 40? OK. 30? Yes. 20? Fine. 10? Go on then.
What happens next? The angels visit the city, the citizens try to rape them and only four decent, righteous people are found. The city gets destroyed, just as God suggested it would be even before Abraham started bargaining.
And here’s the question: why did God let Abraham go through the negotiations? As the omnipresent Creator, the all seeing, Almighty one, surely God knew that Abraham’s figure of ten was too high and that the city would end up trashed anyway. Why go through the motions?
So here’s the answer: God wanted Abraham to ask, to get involved, to care about the state of his fellow man because that it precisely how we’ve been made. We’re not here to soak up the blessing and ignore the responsibilities. We’re here to offer an accompaniment to God’s divine justice: human justice. We’re supposed to get involved, we’re supposed to care, to feel, to ask questions and rage against the machine of a world plagued by the marks of the fall.
The rest of the Bible continues the theme: God’s offer of relationship with his created beings and our flip-flopping between responsibility and apathy, between being the bringers of the blessing and being trapped by the bubble.
It was just this way with the Israelites while they were held captive by the injustice of Pharaoh’s reign. They found themselves at the wrong end of a power system designed to protect the interests of those at the top. Fortunately for us God’s plans were bigger than the Egyptian restrictions:
‘The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… and now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."’
Exodus 3:7-10
Look again at God’s speech. It makes such a great start, like an Oscar-winning warm-up to one of those explosive sequences where the good guy ends up in his vest, trashing the town and trouncing the baddies. The fact that God declares that he has ‘seen the misery… heard the crying’ and has ‘come down to rescue them’ would surely have got Moses settling back into his armchair and rubbing his hands in eager anticipation at the remarkable spectacle about to be witnessed. Then comes something unexpected: ‘I am sending you’, the killer line, the counterpoint which shifts the tone as God places Moses at the heart of his plan.
‘You,’ God says, singular, not plural. ‘You,’ alone, impetuous, unwise and wholly unqualified to do the job. ‘You,’ overwhelmed and dwarfed by the task. ‘You,’ worrying about how on earth you’re going to make a difference.
We all know what followed. We know that God’s power to save was more than enough without the input of Moses, but that through his grace Moses was invited into partnership with God, to be the waiter who delivered the order. Does God want us as ready-made heroes? I doubt it. Surely he’d rather we were on our knees, aware of all the reasons why we can’t match up, but ready to obey all the same.
Bubbles can be tricky things to break out of, but let’s not let fear hold us back.

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