Bubble Boy Meets Darth Vader – Part 1

It was July 4th about 10 years ago and we went with our family to watch fireworks at Groveland State Park near our home in Ortonville, Michigan.  I had felt strange most of the day, but that evening my head began to thump…and it wouldn’t stop.  So, I took my usual Ibuprofen and hoped that it would go away, but it didn’t.

I tossed and turned all night getting little sleep.  In t he morning the headache continued and I was now in quite some pain – so much so that my wife, Elia, demanded I go to the Hospital (You know us guys…only if it’s really bad will we even consider the hospital) When we arrived I waited for a while in the waiting room…I mean, really, I only had a headache.  Certainly the others in the Emergency room were there for much worse things.

So, I finally got in and was placed on a gurney.  Immediately I said to myself, “I have to buy one of these things, they are soooo comfortable.”

Well, finally someone came, an intern, and began to ask questions.  They left and another person came…another intern.  Questions, questions, questions.  “Can’t you just give me something for the pain?” I was thinking to myself.  Finally they did give me some Demerol, I believe.  It should have taken the edge off, but it didn’t, so more interns came in to see me.

After some time and discussion the head Doctor overseeing the Interns approved me for a CAT scan.  Now, I am thinking, “It’s a headache, why do I need a cat scan?  Well, they took one and found nothing (that’s a pun…or it is at least the only humor I found in the moment)

After a long wait I was finally told that they were going to keep me overnight for observation.  I was fine with that as it would give me an opportunity to rest and for people to bring me food and drink.  So, they took me up to a room and to my pleasant surprise I had a room all to myself.  I settled down and began to fall asleep.

Sometime, after about a half an hour at least I was awoken by the Nurse on duty.  My eyes were still closed when she entered the room, but when I opened them up I was looking at “Darth Nurse.”  From head to toe she was covered in light blue with a mask over her face, gloves over her hands and she began to speak…

In a Darth sound came the words…

“Hello, Mr. Phillips…I am your nurse.  You must listen to these instructions carefully.  We will bring you everything that you need.  You must not leave the room.  Only certain people can come into the room.  Mr. Phillips, you are under quarantine!!!!”

“What?” I thought to myself.  “I am under quarantine?”  “But why?”

The Nurse then responded timidly, “Mr. Phillips, we don’t want to alarm you (too late for that!), but we believe you may have Bacterial Meningitis.”

Now, I knew that Bacterial Meningitis wasn’t good and that epidemics of young people had broken out in various boarding schools, college dorms and scout camps.

Whatever it really was, I was forced to be in Isolation.  I was alone, free to move around in my room, but cut off from the rest of the world.  My head was still thumping and all the window blinds were down in the room to protect my eyes, but I was under quarantine, and my only contact to the outside world was Darth Vader!

The Bubble of Isolation

Now friends, the sad reality is that like me too much of what we do as God’s children is fleshed out in isolation.  We have deliberately quarantined ourselves off from much of the World.  We live, to some degree, in a Christian Bubble of sorts which has had an effect on us and our impact for the Kingdom.

Let me define what I am talking about…

From a positive perspective, the Christian Bubble is the environment that we create, nurture and maintain that provides for us some really good things that flow out of our faith:  safety, comfort, predictability, defined behavior and expectation…

We go to church where Christians gather for worship.  Some send their kids to a Christian School where other Christians students attend and where the teachers, coaches, janitors and lunch workers are Christians.  We go to work and seek out the Christians there, spend lunch with them.  We have Christian friends, Christian mechanics, Christian hairdressers and play on Christian softball teams.

Now, is there anything wrong with that?

Now, from a negative perspective, here is what Relevant Magazine – a post-modern Christian periodical – says in passing on their “What We Believe” page…

“Christians can’t be complacent living in a Christian bubble and never engaging the world they live in.”

Are they on to something?  Is their conclusion correct?  Let’s read their comment again…

“Christians can’t be complacent living in a Christian bubble and never engaging the world they live in.”

Well, some of what they are saying I agree with…but there is an underlying assumption that distorts their argument…

Let me ask you.  “Are Christians who live in a “Christian Bubble” complacent? The answer to that question is, “Some are and some aren’t.”  Complacency is a problem and should be avoided.  It is subtle and creeps up on you, so all Christians should be careful to not be complacent, but what about the Christian Bubble…is it bad?

I would suggest that it is both good and bad!

I have already mentioned some of the good – that God has established, promised and commanded that the Church be a place of Safety & Comfort, that it is predictable with defined behavior and expectations. Your family should be a Christian Bubble to some degree; Your Bible Study, etc.  The problem comes when we, because of all the blessings that come with being a church – or being in a Christian Bubble – we don’t want to engage in life outside the bubble.

So, we must be careful not to knock the Bubble that God has created in the Church and Family.  But we should remind ourselves how easy it is to settle with all the joys and benefits of being in Christ to the point that we become complacent and then neglect our responsibility to share our faith.

There are really two extremes that should be avoided.

  • Extreme #1 – Isolation from the World because we are so comfortable with our Christian Bubble
  • Extreme #2 – Abandoning the organized Church because we see it as an unhealthy Christian Bubble

So, what do we do?  How do we move ahead out of our Isolation?  We don’t want to be going out into the world like “Darth Vader” Christians putting our masks on.

Well, as we will see, the answer if found in the example of Christ…

Come back for Part 2 soon…

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