SEEK 14 – Family and Christianity
Question: Why is my family not Christian?
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:10-24
Text: “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16)
We want the best for the people we love – and the best is for them to come to know Christ. Some people are brought up in a Christian home and come to share the faith of their parents (some of course reject that faith). But others are brought up in a non-Christian home become believers , and then their parents or siblings follow them.
I don’t know your personal circumstances – and all of us have different ones – and there are many reasons why people are not Christians. Some have rejected the truth but others have not heard it – yet. The question ‘why are my family not Christians?’ is not the most important one. The vital issue is that they become Christians.
There may be some hostility, suspicion and resentment. Jesus warned his disciples that sometimes there would be a cost in following him. One of the greatest is when your family disown you because you have come to faith in Christ. I think of the Muslim who, after he was baptised, was rejected by his family. Or the Chinese woman who was concerned about the impact on her parents of her going against the family tradition and becoming a believer. Or the parents of a student who had started coming to our church in Dundee. When she wrote home telling them how much she enjoyed going to church they were so concerned that they came down to visit us to check us out. And I will never forget the moment as a teenage boy when a group of us were having a Bible study in our home – and one father stormed into the house, furious at his teenage son: “I thought you were at an all night party and then I found out you were at one of these Bible things – go home! You’re grounded!”.
Jesus warned us we could expect costly opposition – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29). But we never give up on our families – and Christ will never give up on us.
But your family may be more apathetic and tolerant. They don’t really care what religious views you have – as long as you don’t really change. If do your school work, homework and don’t take your religion too seriously – they might just let you be – regarding it more like your taste in music or your support of a particular football team.
The most wonderful thing is when your family respond positively to your becoming a Christian. They are intrigued by the change, pleased at the improvement in your behaviour and delighted at your joy. They might even think that they should investigate Christianity for themselves.
Which is where you come in. Before there was no Christian presence in your family – now there is. That is both a great opportunity and a great responsibility. Your family know you better than anyone else – so they will be able to observe how much your life has changed. They will be wondering if this is just a phase you are going through – and if you are really for real.
It would not be wise to preach at your family. Or to seek to ‘evangelise’ them – if by ‘evangelise’ we mean present them with a Gospel programme, or try to get them to sign up to your church. Instead we should follow the advice of Peter – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15). Your life will cause them to ask questions. And you must be ready to give answers.
That is why you should study the Word, pray and continue in fellowship with your fellow believers. And it is why you should in your hearts ‘revere Christ as Lord’. When you grow in your relationship with the Lord, Christ has come into your home. It is not up to you to convert your family, it is up to you to live for Christ in the hardest place of all – your home. It is up to them to respond.
Consider: How do you think being a Christian has made a difference to how you treat your family? What is the best way to witness to Christ in your home? Are you faithful in prayer for those you love?
Further Reading: Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations – Alex and Brett Harris
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I bless you that you have called me to yourself. I plead with you to bring my family as well – just as you have brought whole families in the past. It breaks my heart to think that they might not be with us in heaven – Lord, have mercy. Amen.