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The Fish Tank

We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,

Year after year, running over the same old ground.

What have we found? The same old fears.

—Pink Floyd

What do fish think when they see me walk up to their tank and watch them?

Some fish may not even see me, their tank having become so grimy it’s hard to see in or out. But living inside a fish tank that slowly becomes grimy puts them in a position of not noticing how fouled their world has become. From outside you can see it, but they’re in the middle of it. They’re the last ones to notice, and they may only notice by how sick they’ve become.

Christ-followers, being outsiders to this world, have a different perspective to the events playing out in the news (as well as the events not commonly reported in the news). It’s like standing at an enormous fish tank, watching what’s going on inside. And it’s getting very murky. We can see the fish aren’t happy — far from it. A lot of them are looking very sick, and a lot are looking very angry.

But what if there were an escape tube which led up to a clean tank? — out to freedom from filth! There would have to be a current of water coming from that tube into the main tank, to prevent contaminants getting into the clean tank. How could we persuade the hapless fish to swim against that current into the tube and away from the grime they cannot perceive? The filthy walls of their tank hide what’s beyond, so they think their tank is all there is…so they don’t even try. They just go on suffering in their own misery.

It doesn’t help that the big fish, who have a habit of feeding on the little fish, do what they can to keep any fish away from the escape tube. Distraction is their favourite tactic. Keep the little blighters running scared (or rather, swimming scared), and they won’t have time to think about a way out. Or get them mesmerised looking at something inside the tank. Just don’t risk them smudging the muck on the wall, in case they get a glimpse of what’s outside.

Even turning up the temperature to make it less comfortable in the main tank doesn’t persuade most to seek out the source of that cooler water flowing in. Most fish just seem to get crankier and even more distracted.

But some wake up to the need to get out of the filth. Despite all the efforts most make to dissuade them, some are smarter than the average fish. They escape the pollution of the lower tank.

Inevitably, it’s going to reach the point where the tank owner has to drain the tank completely, and deal with the source of the contamination. But ahead of that, understandably, the owner is allowing as much time as possible for as many fish as possible to get out to the clean tank before it gets to the stage where the tank they’re in must be drained.

Viva la evacuation! And, as Christ’s followers say, Maranatha!

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