Going into college, I prayed fervently for good, godly friends who would encourage and challenge me in my faith. The Lord answered this prayer abundantly, giving me a deeply rooted community of believers who influenced me and genuinely helped make my faith what it is today. But about halfway through my time at school, I realized something: I only spent time with other Christians.
Everyone in my student organization, my Bible study and my church were Christians. The people I met up with for coffee during the week were strong, committed believers. Everyone I interacted with thought and believed the exact same things I did. Most of us even had similar upbringings and political views.
The irony is, I attended one of the nation’s largest public colleges. I had every reason to run into non-Christians daily, but simply neglected the opportunities. It was easier to stay in my lane and focus on my agenda rather than make the effort to reach out to non-believers the Lord had placed in my path. I had created this comfortable “bubble” around myself full of people just like me.
Let me be clear: Having Christian community isn’t bad. Scripture encourages it and reveals that we were created for it. In the beginning when God created Adam, He declared that it was not good for man to be alone, so He created Eve. Even God himself was never alone, eternally existing as the triune God. Being in community with other believers is essential to our Christian walk, as it gives us a space to be challenged, encouraged, and to grow in our faith. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith today if not for the strong Christians in my life who taught me how to read the Bible on my own, kept me accountable in my sin, and encouraged me in hard seasons.
But in college I was eventually challenged by Matthew 5:14-16, which says:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
I asked myself: How am I being a light to the darkness around me?
I can be a light in my Christian community, but a light shines brighter in dark places. Simply put, I must be where unbelievers are. By taking the bus or going to a different coffee shop, I will put myself in a position to meet people outside of my “bubble.”
From there, I need to love them like Christ does. How can I love those around me, especially those who don’t share my faith? What would most impact my unbelieving neighbor or the barista I interact with every day? Here are a few ways we can shine our light to the non-Christians around us.
Initiate a friendship. Any good friendship starts with an invitation. Jesus was big on invitations. He spent His time on earth inviting people to hear the Truth, turn from their sin, and follow Him. In Luke 19, He even invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ house!
Extending an invitation is the first step to forming a friendship with someone. Most people are surprised when you show an interest in knowing and spending time with them. Inviting your neighbor over for dinner or asking a coworker to grab coffee will allow you to get acquainted, build trust, and share Christ’s love. Breaking out of your “Christian bubble” starts with new relationships.
Bring them into your community. I have a sign over my kitchen table with John 13:35 printed on it:
“By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
One of our most powerful testimonies as believers is shown in how we treat each other in community. By bringing “outsiders” into our close community, they will be able to see the love of God. So next time your Bible study has a movie night or a Friendsgiving, invite a friend with whom you’ve been wanting to share the gospel.
Some people call these Matthew parties – gatherings intended to create a fun, comfortable environment where believers and non-believers can interact and connect. Casual gatherings are a great way to break down barriers and misconceptions that many non-Christians hold against those in the church, and vice versa.
Be real. Close friendships form when both parties listen, show care, and are honest with one another. A friend of mine often talks about this concept of ‘gospel fluidity’ – the idea that there are countless ways throughout our day where we can talk about and relate to the gospel. Did you recently lose your job? That’s a great opportunity to share that God provides, no matter what. Did God answer a prayer request you’ve been entrusting to Him for a long time? That’s a perfect way to show how God always hears us when we cry out to Him.
Sharing these tiny gospel moments with those around you (especially non-believers) will show them how you navigate life in the ups and downs. When we open our lives to others, we give them a front row seat to what God is doing in us.
Ultimately, we want to break out of the “Christian bubble” to be light to the darkness in our world. If we as believers only stay within our comfort zone, who is left to reach out to the lost? Let’s point people to our Savior — our only true hope — and be salt and light to those around us.
What will you do today to step out of your Christian bubble?
Copyright 2022 Hannah Nymeyer. All Rights Reserved.