When I started the police academy one instructor came in and asked us if we were ready for “life in a fishbowl.” We stared blankly at him and at each other until he explained further. He said that we were about to enter a world where everything is watched and scrutinized. That it was like being in a fishbowl, on display for everyone to see. We were advised to always be conscious of our surroundings and to make good ethical choices because you never know who is watching. When I hit the streets, this became all too evident as almost everyone has a cell phone camera and they feel obligated to use it when they see police engaged with a suspect. Between that, dash cams, and now even body cams, even upper management can watch and scrutinize our actions from the comfort of their offices.

…Life in a fishbowl. No matter how many circles that fish swims, it can always be seen. As Christians, we need to realize that we also live in a fishbowl.

We are watched by others

I Thess 5:14 says, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Watching each other isn’t just about judgment or correcting someone’s mistakes. Romans 14:13 says we are not to “judge one another anymore.” We are to encourage one another (I Thess 5:11), help the weak (Acts 20:35) and we are to be patient with each other (II Cor 6:6, II Tim 4:2).

We are watched by the world

We are all familiar with Matt 5:14-16 where Jesus says we are the light of the world. Our actions need to show the world that we place Christ as a priority in our lives. Paul writes “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8). We are to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12).

We are watched by our children

Kids love to mimic, to imitate, and to be like adults, so the best way to teach them to be a good Christian is to be good Christians ourselves. The Bible provides many instructions for teaching/training our children. Prov 22:6 says to “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs chapter four is all about a father’s instruction to his son. We must equip our children with ways to fight the evils of this world.

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (II Tim 3:14-17)

We are watched by God

We tell our children all the time “God is watching you” but how many of us as adults actually act like God is watching us? It’s easy to forget that our Maker is always watching. “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). We will be judged for the things we do on this earth and that includes the things that we think no one sees. Romans 2:16 says, “on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” I Cor 4:5 says, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” Psalms 44:21 says God knows the secrets of the heart.

I leave you with a passage from Hebrews which sums up everything we need to remember about this earthly fishbowl:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16)

Jeri Richardson