I want you to take a moment to think about your friends. Think about who your best friends are. Why are you best friends? Is it because they are also Christians?
A lot of the time, Christians have Christian best friends. This makes a lot of sense! Of course you’re going to be close to people who share your faith and your view of life. Of course you’ll want to spend time with people who build you up in Christ and don’t tempt you to sin. Conversations are easy, you see each other all the time at church, and you have the same ideas about what a great Friday night looks like (youth group!)
But here’s the problem: many Christians, without even realizing it, are living in a Christian bubble. Their families are Christians. All their friends are Christians. They hardly ever see or talk to non-Christians, and when they do it’s only cursory interactions and niceties, nothing deep.
Jesus calls us to share the gospel with everyone in the world, but how are we supposed to do that when we only know people who already have the gospel? If you think you’re in a Christian bubble, here are some ways to break out.
Do it now!
As you get older, it will only get harder to make new friends. After you finish school you’ll go to uni or college, or into a job, and you won’t have the same social structures around you to help you make friends. Many adult Christians reach 30 and realise that their social life is completely linked to their church life and they have no friends outside of their church brothers and sisters. Be intentional now about widening your social networks, and set yourself up for a future of diverse friendships full of gospel opportunities.
Look at where you spend your time
Every ministry or church commitment you say yes too is great, but it’s also you saying no to free time to spend with people who need the gospel. Definitely commit some of your time to Christian ministries, but make sure you have space in your life for hanging out with non-Christians and building friendships.
Find connections based on something other than Jesus
I find it easiest to make friends with Christians because there’s a built in connection – we both love Jesus! But there are plenty of connections we have with people who don’t (yet!) love Jesus. Go looking for these connections! Maybe you love the same music, or you read the same books or both hate mushrooms. When you start looking for friends based on these connections, you’ll find yourself growing relationships with non-Christians as well as Christians.
Go where the non-Christians are
If you only spend your time at youth group, church or with your Christian friends at school, how are you going to meet non-Christians? You need to go where they are. Obviously some places and events are not great things for Christians, but it may be as simple as joining a sports team, sitting at a different place in the classroom or going to local events. When I moved into my current suburb, I joined a local gym, mostly to get fit but also because I knew I might be able to meet some non-Christians in the area. It’s a slow process (mostly because of my own fear!) but I’m starting to build connections with the women in my Saturday morning Zumba class.
If you’re in a Christian bubble, then definitely try these steps to break out of it. But don’t do it simply to convert people! Your new friends will not feel valued or loved if they find out you just became friends with them to turn them to Christ. Relationships should be built on mutual admiration, shared connections or experiences and kindness first and foremost. Showing love to your friends is extremely important, and though they need the gospel you should share it with them out of love in sensitive and appropriate ways.
Are you in a Christian bubble? How are you going to break out of it?