Get Out Of Your Bubble!

There is an oft-forgotten movie that came out in the early 2000’s called Bubble Boy. Do you remember it? If you don’t, you aren’t alone. It seemed like it was popular for about 2 weeks in 2001 and then quickly forgotten. The film was about a boy who was allergic to nearly everything in the entire world, so in an effort to protect him, he grew up inside a literal bubble suit. He then begins to chase a girl he had feelings for by going out into the world for the first time, bubble-suit and all. I don’t remember the film being very good (I’m fairly certain it bombed), but I will always remember the ridiculous image of a boy in a hamster ball trying to make it in the real world, rolling around everywhere he went. 

As silly of a concept as it was, it reminds me of how many of us “inside” the church live our faith. We insulate ourselves, not within a physical bubble, but a metaphorical bubble of church folks, sacred spaces, and controlled environments. We tend to hang out around church people, go to Christian concerts, hang out at Bible study groups, and…. Well, you get the point.  

But here’s the rub: If we are truly called to be salt and light in the world, and to live on mission for God, then we have to be where people are. Just like the line from The Little Mermaid says, “I wanna be where the people are…” After all, this is how Jesus lived.  

I’ve heard it said that Jesus got crucified because he ate dinner with the wrong people… and it’s pretty true. It was Jesus’ reputation for spending time with sinners that made the religious elite so upset with him.  A Rabbi was supposed to be above sinners, not spending time with them! So how do we live out the same mission of Jesus in 2024? Let me give you four quick ways that you can get outside of your bubble.  

The first way is to simply spend time where others are. This means leaving sacred, shiny & clean spaces and going out where the people are. I spend the bulk of my time during the week, not in church, but out in non-sacred spaces – around messy people who probably drink, swear, and sin too much. Part of my job as a weekend DJ and sound guy is that I get hired for a lot of events where people are there to have a good time… and that means being in places I normally wouldn’t spend time in. But over time as I build relationships with clients and business folks in our community, I begin to have a relational connection with them, and that opens the door for faith conversations. I don’t have to participate in the actions they take, but I always want to be in the same spaces with them so I can build relational credibility. And that’s the first step to making disciples!  

Another way to get outside your bubble is to begin looking for ways to serve others. This may mean volunteering and doing social work in the community. It may also mean scouring your neighborhood Facebook page and being there for others when they have a need that arises. Just as Jesus came to serve, we also are called be servants of others – like the Good Samaritan that Pastor Dave shared about last week in Luke 10.

In fact, a natural extension of serving others is just to learn the Art of Neighboring. Who is your neighbor? Well, your neighbor is anyone that you come into contact with! But start simple – strive to be an asset to your neighborhood. It’s incredibly easy to be a good neighbor, because there are so many BAD neighbors these days. Being helpful and serving your neighbors means that you have a foothold into a relationship that can form in the future. See a garbage can rolling down the road? Go get it! New neighbor moving in next door? Take them some cookies and welcome them! Don’t be that “strange Christian” policing their morality. Instead, find ways to love on people! That’s how you gain real influence and trust in someone’s life.  

Finally, the best way to begin to get outside your bubble is to be ok living in the messy. Just as Jesus ate with sinners and hung out with all the wrong people for the sake of the Kingdom, we should be willing to do the same. This doesn’t mean going into those spaces and sinning, but it certainly means being ok with hanging around sinners and not expecting them to police their behavior around you. Those of us in ministry use a phrase often… “Ministry is messy.” Why is it messy? Well, because people are messy! And we have to be ok with the mess to have any relational impact in their lives. Learn how to hang out with your spiritually skeptical friend and be a good listener. Go to a concert with someone to build a relationship. Invite your neighbor over for a grill out. Better yet, throw a block party! Invite your co-worker out for a beer and listen to all of their issues with the church. Show them that you are more interested in them than you are about defending other Christians who offended them. Simply put, spend time with sinners.  You can’t be salt and light in the world unless you are actually in the world. 

Let’s become more like Jesus together!

-Pastor Dusty