Most of us prefer what’s comfortable or familiar. We befriend those who think, act and believe like we do. We pick significant others based on how much our likes and dislikes align. We more easily bond with those of a shared interest, whether it be sports teams, political affiliation or hobby. We listen to people with similar opinions and tone out the rest. We even shop based on companies’ values and recommendations from those we trust.
They may come in different sizes and thicknesses, but most of us have a bubble and stay within it. It’s why we have clubs, affiliations and interest groups. We enjoy spending time with resemblances of ourselves and even long to reproduce mini-mes. Many tend to stick to the same foods and scrounge their noses at the mere idea of trying something “weird.” For the average person, our adventurous spirit only goes so far, whether it's with what we put in our mouths or do in our free time. We often entertain the idea of change—and at times demand it—but we usually either don’t mean it or quickly revert back to routine and comfort.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for those of us who call ourselves Christians. Though we were once far from God, we are now so inundated with everything “Christian,” we’ve created our own Christian bubbles.
Our friends are Christian, all of them. We only talk to non-Christians when necessary to complete everyday tasks like getting groceries, eating out or going to the bank. We watch Christian movies and TV shows, read Christian books, attend Christian events, listen to Christian music and buy from Christian businesses. Stamp an “I love Jesus” sticker on it, and we’ll endorse it.
There’s nothing wrong with supporting Christian entrepreneurs, musicians and authors. There’s nothing wrong with surrounding ourselves with brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, that’s the very thing the Bible tells us to do. Our family in Christ holds us accountable, encourages us, prays for and with us and bears our burdens. All good things, and all are mentioned in the Bible when speaking about the Body of Christ and its purpose.
The problem arises when our entire world involves only these things and people. We are to love, encourage, care for and admonish our siblings in Christ, but we are to do it in conjunction with a greater mission—make disciples, tell those far from Christ about the One who knows everything about us and came to save us (see the story of the Samaritan woman as told in John 4:1-45). This was Jesus’ great and final command to His ragtag group of followers before He returned to His rightful place next to the Father in Heaven:
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:19-20, emphasis mine).
If Jesus viewed this command so highly, so should we. But, in order to fulfill it, we have to pop our Christian bubbles. How else are we to reach those outside the family if we never converse with them or extend the same love Jesus gave us?
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John tells us in one of his letters that we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Read that again.
“We love because he (Jesus) first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
We received and now get to share THE greatest news with people who have yet to hear it because Jesus popped the bubble to save you and them. You, my friend, are a direct result of Jesus popping the bubble.
If you’re a Christ-follower with Jewish roots (also commonly referred to as a Messianic Jew due to your Jewish heritage and belief in Jesus as the promised Messiah/Savior), you stand right before God as His beloved child because Jesus popped the bubble when He temporarily took on flesh, bore your sins and the penalty they deserve and defeated death and sin once and for all. Jesus literally set aside His glory in Heaven to come down and save you, something you never could achieve on your own (Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 2:5-8). He did it for all those who believe in Him, but He would have done it if it had just been for you.
The same goes for those of us who follow Christ but are not of Jewish ancestry; we’re what the Bible refers to as “Gentiles,” those who are non-Jewish. We too are saved because Jesus popped the bubble by taking on our sins. Yet, the good news doesn’t stop there. God’s first people were the Israelites, the Jewish people; they first received His promise of being His children, and it would be through them that the rest of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3, Deuteronomy 7:6-8). They were also Jesus’ first audience, but they were not His only mission in the end (Isaiah 49:6, Romans 1:16, Acts 15:8-9). For Jesus came to dismantle the separation between Jews and Gentiles, saving all who would believe in Him (John 3:16, 10:15-16; Eph. 2:13-14).
He grafts us into His family tree and calls us children just as He does with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Our lineage or “good” deeds don’t make us a part of the family tree, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf does. By His wounds, we are healed (1 Peter 2:24, see also Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus also popped the bubble when He ate with sinners, talked with outcasts, touched lepers and embraced the ostracized. His followers were simple fishermen, women and enemies of the Jews. He ate with sinners so often, He was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard, not because He ever ate or drank in excess but welcomed and befriended people the religious elite deemed as less than.
Today’s equivalents? Atheists, Muslims and Buddhists. Pro-choice and LGBTQ+ supporters. Catholics, Methodists and Charismatics. Anyone we see as different and therefore disassociate from ourselves.
They can be of an entirely different faith or simply a different denomination. Sometimes they’re even ones with whom we agree on all the fundamentals (i.e. Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s equality with the Father, Jesus’ bodily resurrection and salvation by faith alone), but with whom we don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to communion, baptism or female teachers. It also might be those who listen to different music or dress differently, inside and outside of church.
We have managed to shrink and bulletproof our bubbles to exclude everyone who doesn’t believe exactly as we do, down to worship style and their stance on pews vs. chairs.
Jesus came to save them all, and He calls us to love them as well. However, this does not mean we ignore, accept or celebrate sin. Jesus meets each of us where we are, but He doesn’t intend to leave us there. Just as He called Zacchaeus, an unjust tax collector, out of his greed and into His love, Jesus calls us out of our sins and into His light (for Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, see Luke 19:1-10). In love and truth, Jesus called adulterers to marital purity, gamblers to financial integrity and demon-possessed to God-obsessed. He met worshipers of false gods and religious zealots the same and commanded them both to humble service to the One true God.
He knows we have tried the world's many solutions for our desire for more, and He is ready to fill that void with Himself.
Jesus loves us too much to leave us in the broken states in which He finds us. He knows we have tried the world’s many solutions for our desire for more, and He is ready to fill that void with Himself. And to do so, He helps us rid ourselves of all the junk we’ve crammed into our hearts. Love of money, love of sex, love of material objects, love of self. Anything and everything we have placed on the pedestal of our hearts and minds, Jesus lovingly takes down, showing us only He will satisfy. Only He will bring us true peace and joy (John 14:27, 16:33; Rom. 5:1). Only He gives life and life abundant (John 1:4, 10:10).
But before we get to that point, Jesus knows He must meet us in our sin, pain, shame and brokenness. He starts by seeing us as we are and lovingly shows us a better way. That is how Jesus operates, and it is how He is calling us to live in relationship with those who do not yet know Him. See them, love them and point them to Him, the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
Friends, God does not intend for us to live in a bubble and never commune with those who are different from us. He made us for so much more, and He does not deserve to be mocked like this. It’s time we all, myself included, pop our bubbles and be the salt and light He called us to be (Matt. 5:13-16).
Like Jesus, we are to love our siblings in Christ and seek those far from the Father. Addicts and atheists. Liberal and conservative. Young and old. Black and white. LGBTQ+ and pro-choice. Hockey fans and football fans. However someone is different from you, look past the differences and focus on the person before you. The sinner made in God’s image, just like you. Don’t see them through the fog of your bubble, but with the clarity of your Gospel goggles. They, just like you once were, are a broken person yearning to be known and loved.
Will you pop your bubble to extend the love you received from the Father? Pop the bubble, take a step, make Him known and watch what God will do.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.