Trinity Church of the Nazarene, York Place, Perth, PH2 8EP

Temptation and Faith

There are many things that stick out to us during our time with Coronavirus, namely our shared experiences and emotions. However, an additional contribution has been our increased vocabulary, which will surely remind us of more than we will want to remember in the years to come. Due to Covid-19, we now have words in our common language such as:

Key Workers / Lockdown / Self-Isolating / Pandemic / Quarantine / Shielding / Social Distancing / 2 Meters / Zoom

Others are less popular, but more trendy in their usage, and certainly more comical in their execution:

Zoombombing (hijacking a Zoom videocall)

WFH (working from home)

Quaranteams (online teams created during lockdown)

Blursday (an unspecified day because of lockdown’s disorientating effect on time)

 

And my personal favorite of referring to the Virus in Cockney Slang as “Miley Cyrus”

 

Additionally, a word that is now starting to get more traction due to Phase 2 is “household bubbles”. Household bubbles, or more specifically, “Extended Household Group”, follows the similar pattern in England and Northern Ireland with their “support bubbles”. In Scotland, people who live on their own, or only with children under 18, can meet people from one other designated household. This group of people can visit each other’s homes and go inside, and they will not have to stay 2m apart and can stay overnight.

You may not change groups, so choose your household bubble wisely!

I tease, but this is actually a massive blessing for those who have been in strict isolation for what has now been 3 months. This increased freedom and social mobility will certainly enrich the lives of many.

The concept of “bubble” is associated with a protective barrier created around the two households and stems from the idea of the perceived safety that comes from limited exposure. If someone is sure that another family is healthy, then it makes sense to assume that you can join two seemingly safe families together. Their compatible health can assure them that they can enjoy each other’s company while keeping the dangerous virus at bay.

This is obviously an oversimplification of the issue, and the concept of household bubbles has great merit to help keep the Virus contained and assisting our national healthcare by repressing a spike in cases. And this is a great thing, when considering the virus.

However, additionally, the word and concept of “bubble” quickly reminds us of “Christian bubbles”, where two or more seemingly compatible Christians come together to form a protective barrier against the dangerous actions of the world outside. And while it is true that we might not have much ability to comment on the perceived benefits and drawbacks of household bubbles in our current Corona-climate, we do have a large responsibility to consider and comment upon the effects of Christian bubbles in our Church, family and personal environments.

Since the beginning of the Church, Christians have huddled together for safety and fellowship, especially in times and places where living the Christian faith is illegal and detrimental to your life and personal safety. In such cases, Christians have huddled together in secret gatherings to encourage one another and to worship together.

However, in the western world, Christians have huddled together in bubbles for different reasons. Rather than avoiding real and physical threat, Christians have sought to avoid harmful ideas and behavior. Christians have created bubbles to shelter each other and their children from the sin of the outside world.

The problem is: If bubbles are created to keep sin out, it doesn’t quite do the trick. Sin is pervasive and has a tricky way of finding its way into every crevice and relationship. Adam and Eve were straight from the source and would have had the strictest “Christian” bubble possible, and yet still Cain killed his brother Abel. The Bible is filled with tragic stories of faithful families that were unable to keep their children sheltered from the destructive effects of sin. David, Samuel, Eli, and many more.

The idea of Christian bubbles and the wisdom needed to live a healthy and faithful life is much more than we can cover in this short devotional.  But the point of this message is to say that we as Christian communities should acknowledge the propensity towards bubbles and to address them with wisdom and discernment.

We need to understand and see the balance.

We need to understand the command to “guard our heart, for from it flows the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) We should not plunge headlong into secular environments filled with temptation without first considering the dangers and cost.

But secondly, we must remember that Jesus has called us to love the world, and to not withdraw from it. It was Jesus’s desire, and prayer, that we would remain in the world, but be protected from the evil one through the power of the Spirit.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:15,16)

It is this verse that we get the short pithy statement to “be in the world, but not of the world.” It is a command to not withdraw but to love the world in an engaging and tangible way.

There is so much more to discuss on this topic, but suffice it say, let the conversation around “household bubbles” drive us into prayer to consider “Christian bubbles” and how we can best serve and love the world around us.

 

Reflections for the Week

  • Read Jesus’s prayer in John 17 and go to God in prayer as you consider the implications for your life.
  • Talk with others about the propensity towards Christian bubbles. Discuss. It is not a simple answer. There is wisdom when considering how best to “flee temptation” and to “raise up a child in the way that they should go”. But there is also great encouragement to live a life of faith and trust in the strength of the Lord.