Don’t think too hard about the title of this article, I made it up. It came about as I thought about how I’ve spent most of my Christian life with other Christians! You might be wondering why that surprised me or even why that is something to write about but bear with me. It’s something to write about because I realized that because I had spent so much time with Christians, I couldn’t therefore interact comfortably with unbelievers and that affects aspects of my Christian life!
It all started innocently enough with good intentions, “You need to find Christian friends who will help you to walk as a Christian.” That is great advice that I would still offer a new Christian today. But as I’ve been considering my ‘bubble’ I would add a simple caveat, “but as you do that, don’t isolate yourself from unbelievers.” Let me tell you why.
Firstly, it affects our evangelism. As Christians we have been sent out by our King and Lord to tell of Him and His good news of salvation so that others can know His love and salvation, come into His kingdom (believe) and follow Him. This means that we need access to people who are not yet in the kingdom, unbelievers. This means that we are not to close ourselves off from interacting with them because only then can opportunities arise for us to tell them of Christ Jesus.
For this reason alone it seems that we should actually be deliberately exposing ourselves to circumstances that will allow us access to unbelievers (this might sound like taboo, especially in the Kenyan context). I remember being surprised by my friend who spoke to me about joining a local club to play volleyball even if she had no real interest in volleyball. She told me that it was so that she could interact with more unbelievers and have the opportunity to evangelize. That just blew my mind! It also helped me diagnose my Christian ‘bubble-ism’ that proved a hindrance to my evangelism.
Secondly, though closely tied to the first point, is that interacting with unbelievers allows us the opportunity to be faithful witnesses. Whereas the first point was about speaking the gospel, this point is about character, how we live out the gospel. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light so shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory your Father, who is in heaven.” Peter also gives that same advice to those who are facing persecution for their faith, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)
We are to be in the world but not of it – ensuring that we are distinct and godly so that God can be glorified. Have you ever thought that by cutting yourself off from unbelievers you were actually denying glory to God? When we live out what we believe we add weight (evidence) to the gospel we proclaim – people have the opportunity to see in our lives the power of renewal and regeneration in our transformed lives.
Thirdly, interacting with unbelievers gives opportunity for growth in our character and godliness. When are we most challenged to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? When we are with unbelievers! (At least that’s what it’s like for me, on the rare occasion I’m hanging out with them) Sometimes they challenge us just because their default position is the complete opposite of what the Spirit is working in us. Sometimes they are deliberately pushing us just to see how far we will go before we snap!
And saddest of all, sometimes they do it in utter rejection and hatred of what is Christ’s and persecute His church. When considering suffering, Paul said to the Roman Church, “. . .we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame . . .” (Romans 5:3-5a) Persecution brings forth endurance and endurance character and character hope, looking forward to the joy of heaven. Hardship is useful in shaping us and causing us to look ahead to the fulfillment of God’s promises!
As I conclude, I should mention that I am not saying that we should seek out unbelievers at all cost. Don’t get me wrong, and end up putting yourself in compromising situations for the sake of ‘being a witness and growing in Christian character’. How and when you expose yourself to unbelievers requires wisdom. It’s obvious that we should not to seek out unbelievers who will obviously tempt us back into an ungodly lifestyle so that we fall away from the faith. But I do hope that we would be so eager to make Jesus known that we would be willing to burst our bubbles. We can begin to open ourselves up to unbelievers in our lives, deliberately including them in our social circles so that we can speak of and show Christ to them. Who knows but that Jesus should work the great miracle of saving them from their sins and reconciling them to Himself for eternity? Then what rejoicing shall be ours!