Last year’s election stressed me out. I couldn’t handle Facebook. I began curating my Facebook newsfeed. I unfollowed people and blocked certain sources until my newsfeed was filled with peace, love, and kitten videos. I couldn’t help it. I’m an INFP on the Myers Brigg-the peace maker.
But, I also created an echo chamber of my own opinions and beliefs. I could only see those who agreed with me. I only discussed things with those who thought like me and it made me feel better. But, it didn’t challenge me and it didn’t challenge others. I created a bubble and lined it with the cushions of my own opinions.
I often do the same thing when it comes to my faith in Jesus. It’s not that I don’t want to engage with people who believe differently, but it is much easier in the USA to retreat into a Christianity bubble. We go to our churches, listen to our music, read our books and blogs, and hang out with the people who understand us. We do our daily chores and run our daily errands and check off our to do lists with little thought to the lost souls we cross paths with every day.
We’re not trying to shut out the world, but we do so inadvertently as we sink into the bubble of what’s easiest.
But, that is not the life God intended for us.
When Jesus prays for his disciples and all other believers in John 17, he asks the Father,
”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. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
Jesus specifically prayed that we would not be removed from the world. He knew it would be easiest for us to live in a bubble, so he destroyed that line of thinking in Matthew 5:13-16.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We often interpret this verse to mean, Ok, if I’m a good person, then I’m being a witness. But, that interpretation falls short. Pagans can be good people too. They often are better people than Christians. As Nancy Leigh Demoss says, “The world is not impressed by a religious version of itself.”
The salt and light the world needs is Jesus. Showing the world Jesus requires us to take the hard road-to engage others in conversations about Jesus, to listen well despite our own emotions, and actually be involved in the lives of non-believers. It means getting our hands dirty and allowing non-believers to see our mess and imperfections-to let them see that we desperately need the One we are sharing with them.
When we stop managing our reputations and allow Jesus’ reputation to shine, we take a pin to the Christian bubbles we’ve created.
But how do we practically stop living in a bubble?
The first step is to go to the places where non-believers live their lives. Invite neighbors over, get involved in the local community or school, and talk-really talk-to those we naturally find ourselves around: family, acquaintances, co-workers, our favorite cashier at the grocery store. It means going where they are and giving up our own comfort before we invite them into our place and ask them to give up their comfort.
My friend Jessie is a great example of this kind of intentional bubble-popping. After weeks of taking her daughter to story time at the library, she noticed that the same moms returned week after week. She felt the Lord prompting her to start up simple conversations with them-to get to know them. After engaging in the uncomfortable small talk, she got to know some of these ladies and started hanging out with them outside of the library. She discovered some were already believers, but some were not and she seeks ways to engage naturally with them in conversations about Jesus.
It all started by her simply noticing the people in the places she naturally goes.
Living outside the Christian bubble doesn’t mean we have to be obnoxious Bible-thumpers. We don’t have to share Jesus the second we meet someone. I have found that most transforming gospel conversations occur over time. So, let’s take that pressure off of ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to move.
Let’s start taking pins to our bubbles-let’s start by noticing people in the places we visit every day. Let’s intentionally go to the places where non-believers live their lives. Let’s then ask God to help us take the first steps in reaching out to others in simple conversation.
Are you with me?
Stay tuned for part 2 next Tuesday-Pray, Walk with Jesus, and Listen to the Holy Spirit
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