2002-07-26 - Unbelieving Family Members
Most of us have some family members who either are nonbelievers or at least don't hold to as strong a faith as we do. Some variations would include "faith should be a private matter and isn't meant for the real world," "it's nice to be a Christian but you have to be realistic - you can't let that affect what job you take." "Being a missionary is a noble profession, but you need to be more practical and study something that will mean more money for your family."
How should we deal with having loved ones who don't share our faith? First, we shouldn't be surprised; rather we should expect it. Jesus Himself told us so:
Matthew 10:34-36 (NASB) Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!
Also, we shouldn't feel responsible for "getting them saved." That's in the Holy Spirit's job description, not ours. He may use us as vessels, but that doesn't mean telling our relative the Gospel over and over and over. The Scriptures do not tell us to do this. In fact, it's been my observation that those tactics usually backfire, causing the listener to get tired of hearing it and tune us out, get annoyed and thus "turned off" to the Gospel etc. Think about it - do you enjoy hearing something over and over and over? I don't! I tire of it and I'm certainly not inclined to want to hear more about it or connect myself with it!
Sometimes our role is to tell the story once, but other times it's to water a seed already planted.
1 Corinthians 3:6-8 (AMP) I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was making it grow and [He] gave the increase. So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater. He who plants and he who waters are equal (one in aim, of the same importance and esteem), yet each shall receive his own reward (wages), according to his own labor.
We water it with prayer, Christian love and our own example.
Sharing our faith isn't limited to reciting the Gospel. In fact, often the most persuasive way to draw someone to Christ is through our lifestyle. Our lives are to manifest a "fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere."
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (Amplified Bible) But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ's victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere, For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing: To the latter it is an aroma [wafted] from death to death [a fatal odor, the smell of doom]; to the former it is an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is qualified (fit and sufficient) for these things? [Who is able for such a ministry? We?
Sometimes our attitudes and behaviors will lead to opportunities to share our faith with them.
1 Peter 3:15 (AMP) But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence
It can be discouraging to pray for years and not see visible results. But we have to remember that God is in control, and everything happens in His time frame, not ours. We also need to remind ourselves that as much as we love our mother, father, brother, husband or whatever - God loves that person even more than we do. And His word says that He wants everyone to be saved.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (AMP) For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior, who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth.
We need to keep praying and loving these people, to be patient and to trust God. He is in control and He will have the final word.