Several years ago Jo Ann and I decided to build our own house. It took us a year, but in the process we not only saved a lot of money, we had the privilege and satisfaction of knowing we’d had our hand on just about every block that was laid, every board that was nailed, and every window, piece of trim, and cabinet that was installed. I confess that I’m really not a carpenter, but I am one of those guys that thinks he can do stuff like that, and has the sense to hire or get some people to help him who really do know what they’re doing. Plus I enjoy power tools!!
In constructing our house it didn’t take me long to realize that there was one tool on the job site that was probably more important than any of the others. It didn’t have a power cord, but it was powerful considering the purpose that it served. As you may have already guessed, considering the title of my blog, it was a level. A level is essentially a four foot piece of wood or metal with straight edges that has a floating bubble that moves depending on the horizontal or vertical plane you are laying it on. And always, you want the bubble to settle exactly between two inscribed lines- because when this happens, you know everything is level and true. I can’t tell you how many times, literally every day, whether we were erecting a wall, laying block, or installing cabinets, we would ask the question, “Where is the bubble?” And obviously if the bubble was in the middle, then nail it! Using that level kept every wall true, every floor right, every cabinet, door, even the pictures my wife would eventually hang on the walls, true.
I really wish that we would all be so intentional when it comes to building our lives; especially if we claim to be Jesus followers. “Where’s the bubble” is not only a great question to ask, it’s a necessary question to ask every day and probably several times a day as it relates to our “Christian” character and conduct! How can we keep our lives true, keep everything rightly fitted together- relationships, mission, emotions, you name it, if we’re not making sure the bubble is where it’s supposed to be. When building my house, I refused to say, “That’s good enough,” if the bubble was slightly off one way or the other. After all, this was MY house and I was going to LIVE in it with my FAMILY, so it wasn’t good enough unless the bubble was where it was supposed to be! Oh, that we thought this way about our representation of Christ!
What has concerned me in my own life, and certainly when it comes to my responsibilities as a church-leader and the people I lead is that, regrettably, we don’t pay enough attention to the bubble. We’re not asking ourselves or each other, “Where’s the bubble?” when it comes to attitude, spiritual gifts, Bible-study, worship style, accountability, obedience, mission, service to others, etc., etc., etc. The Bible says, “God is Faithful and True!” He is not, nor his word, is skewed or imbalanced, or too far this way or that way, He and his Word are simply and perfectly, TRUE. To me, using the metaphor of the level means we are building and living a life that is TRUE with the character, conduct, and cause of Christ. We get in too much trouble, and certainly the church, our families, as well as our individual lives get way out of alignment and trueness when we either don’t consider what is right or correct in every situation (not merely the “truth” of the Word, but it’s true application), or we unwisely allow things to be “good enough”, or worse yet have no comprehension that our viewpoints and self-proclaimed standards are very skewed.
I’m not at all suggesting compromise or moving to the middle on everything, without any convictions about anything. What I am saying is that in every situation; my marriage, my relationships with my children, my interactions with my neighbors, how I engage those younger or older than me, my opinions and preferences versus what is actually doctrinal, my very relationship with God, etc., needs to be constantly checked for pure motivation, sensitivity to the Spirit in every situation, submissiveness to the will of God, and what is TRUENESS as it relates to the character and conduct of Christ in all those settings I will find myself in.
“Where is the bubble?” is really a question of “Where is Jesus?” as I relate, connect, and build and live my life in the greater context of the world and the Church that Jesus is building.