Before I even start writing this, if you’ve attended a Christian college – or any Christian school for that matter – you probably already know exactly what this is about, based on the title alone. The Christian College Bubble.
I’ve gone to three different Christian schools in my life and one public school. Granted, one of the Christian schools was in elementary school, before I was really exposed to the concept of being in this bubble or not. But let me start by saying that I have a complete love-hate relationship with this bubble.
But first, what exactly is this bubble? For those who haven’t experienced it or may not be familiar, it is – in essence – the sheltered atmosphere that comes with being surrounded by people who share either the same, or similar, values and beliefs. It obviously does not apply only to Christianity, but that’s what I’m choosing to focus on for this post based on my experience at Messiah College.
Let me also start this post by saying that I absolutely loved my four years at Messiah College and, given the opportunity, I’d gladly choose it all over again.
So, my love-hate relationship with being almost always surrounded by a community of believers. We can start with what I love. There’s a lot of reasons to desire the presence of fellow believers. There is so much wisdom that other people carry with them on their faith journeys that they are able to share – insight that we may not have on our own. There are Biblical calls to communities of believers, so by no means are they a negative thing. Being present in a community of believers can be a safe haven, and can help to nourish your journey in faith and can help to give the gradual seeds needed for continued growth.
However, I think there’s a lot of value in getting outside of that bubble now and then. Sometimes, God places a call on our hearts to a place way outside of our comfort zone – far from the bubble. One of the things that I disliked at Messiah, was that I felt rarely exposed to the other side or challenged by non-believers in my faith. After all, some of the times I’ve grown most dramatically in my faith have been the times where my faith was being very actively challenged and questioned, either by myself or others.
Also, I don’t want anyone to believe that I’m saying that Messiah closes out those other voices or that those voices aren’t present on campus; I just was not exposed to those conversations very often, and part of that may have been my own doing. In fact, I really appreciated when someone, believer or non-believer, would challenge my faith. Being exposed to another view and challenged in your own forces you to have to dig deeper for your own answers to the very tough questions. And believe me, Christianity faces some very tough questions. There are many questions that I don’t have anything close to an answer for.
I think for Christians, we have to be careful of those tough questions. I don’t mean be careful in a way that you avoid them. I mean to be careful in a way as to not give an answer that is not representative of the truth; don’t just come up with an answer that makes you happy. Don’t claim to have an answer that you don’t. Learn the ability to be able to say, “I don’t know.” Then search for those answers!
When challenges arise to your faith or your beliefs, don’t shy away and run back into the bubble for safety and sweep those questions under the rug or pretend they never happened or aren’t a problem. You can go back to the bubble, but do so to seek counsel and to dig for the answers. What I’m saying is, don’t shy away from the difficult conversations, because it always could be an opportunity to be a light in a dark place. But always remember that the light you are shining ought not be your own, but God’s.
I’d also issue a warning with all of this. Don’t take this writing to be any kind of instruction that you need to avoid the bubble at all costs and constantly live on the outside, with your faith under attack. Don’t intentionally keep putting yourself in a position to have your faith torn down. Know when you need time in the safety of the bubble – the community of believers – to be restored and replenished by God.
Always remember, whether you are inside or outside the bubble, to keep an open-mind; to seek truth; to love one another; and, in all things, follow the blessed path that God is directing you on.
To God be the Glory.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written. A lot has been changing! I graduated college and am working full-time now! Shortly, I’ll write a post with some updates, and I plan to begin writing more regularly again as life begins to settle down more. If you’re reading this, I thank you for your taking the time, and I hope you enjoyed. God bless.