Over the last few years, God has shown my family that we have been living in a Christian bubble. This is easy to do in seminary. In fact, until a year ago I worked at the seminary, went to school at the seminary, and lived in seminary housing. As we realized that we had very little interaction with those outside the church, we decided to make some changes.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, it is important for followers of Jesus Christ to get together in order to encourage one another toward maturity in Christ. These times are very special to my family, and we never want to stop these times of fellowship and teaching and community.
However, I do not think it is good for followers of Jesus to spend all of their time with other followers of Jesus. We are here to take part in God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself. We are God’s ambassadors. And, ambassadors are to go outside of their own country as a representative in a foreign land. We had been ambassadors that spent most of their time staying in their own country… and something had to change.
The first change – a major one – happened just over a year ago. We moved out of seminary housing and into a “real” house about six miles from the seminary. Because of this move, we started finding ourselves reaching outside of the Christian bubble. Since our neighborhood (like many neighborhoods) is a bedroom community, we rarely see our neighbors, which means that much of our time is still being spent with followers of Jesus Christ.
We started asking God how we could spend more time with people who were not part of his family. The first thing he taught us was to not be artificial. It would not help if we started spending time with people with whom we shared nothing in common. Therefore, we wanted to spend time with people with whom we shared the same interests.
The first opportunity presented itself when our son decided he wanted to play football. We registered him for a local team and decided to my wife and I would spend as much time as possible at football practices and games. Because of this, most of the boys on the team know us. The coaches know us. We have met many of the parents. We even had dinner after an away game with some of the boys and their parents. We also started taking one of the boys home after practice.
But, Jesus is directing us to continue moving in this direction. We see Jesus eating in the homes of people like Zacchaeus, the friends of Matthew, and even a Pharisee. In fact, Jesus hung out with those who were outside of the family of God so much that the religious people called him a drunk and a glutton. It is time for us to take the next step and invite some neighbors and acquaintances to our home to continue building relationships with them.
For too long, my family has learned how to build relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are now being called to build relationships with those who are not in the family of God. This has been a long process, and I do not believe we will completely learn this within the next month. However, I do believe that God will give us opportunities in the next month, because He has given us opportunities in the past.
I don’t know if this actually falls within the bounds of this synchroblog. This is not something new for myself or for my family. This is an area where God has been changing us for the past year or more. However, over the last couple of weeks, we have talked about how we need to move beyond where we are. We have been praying and continue to pray that God would provide more interaction with people outside of his family. We want to be his ambassadors, so we actually want to be among unbelievers. We want God to plead through us, as Paul said he would. We want Jesus to continue to burst our Christian bubble.
Over the next month, I will write about the opportunities that God gives us to build relationships with those who are not following the way of Christ – about the opportunities that God gives us to continue reaching and relating outside the Christian bubble.
Other contributors to the WWJDWTC Synchroblog: