Living the gospel with unbelieving family can be challenging. Here are 5 ways to bring your faith and family together.
As Christians, we do not have the luxury of living in silos.
Therefore, we must live out our faith among non-believers.
In our neighborhoods. With our co-workers.
Sometimes, even within our own household.
Honoring our Christian beliefs and values on faith-based holidays can be a great time to show others the light of Christ.
Sometimes it opens hearts. It saves hearts.
But, sometimes, it’s openly resisted.
So, to address how to walk through these delicate issues of living the gospel with unbelieving family, I’ve asked my dear friend, Katie Deckert, to be my first guest writer.
Katie’s gifts are offering hospitality, and cultivating community, so I couldn’t think of a better person to write this post.
Without further ado, here’s Katie.
Living the Gospel in the Face of Family Pressure
Commitment to Christ is costly and sometimes the holidays make that feeling especially raw.
We gather around our tables with a deep desire to connect. We want to share our hearts and to have the things we hold dear respected by our closest friends and family members. We want them to know the depth of this beautiful gospel for themselves!
But, it can be downright discouraging when we are met with anger and hostility. We believe the truth of the gospel is the only hope this world has and we long that others might have the eyes of their hearts enlightened as well (Ephesians 1:18) but sitting around those family tables often means discouraging moments, snide comments, dirty looks, and awkwardness.
We don’t want to push these dear ones away and yet we want to remain true to the only hope they have in life and in death.
How do we accurately live out and speak the gospel in grace to those who are close to us?
Some have answered this question by saying we must be willing to sacrifice these relationships. While I believe this is true from Matthew 19:29, our goal is still, as far as it depends on us, to live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18).
Others have falsely attributed the quote “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words” to St. Francis of Assisi and used this logic to state that our lives alone should be our testimony of the gospel until we are directly asked.
Hopefully, our Christianity is leading us to be self-sacrificing, genuinely kind people whose lives align well with the beliefs we hold (Philippians 2:12). However, there are a lot of nice people in this world.
Our responses to suffering and challenging people may lead to questions and genuine openness but it may not as well.
So what do we do, as we gather with friends and family this year who don’t treasure Christ? How do we interact in a God-glorifying way that doesn’t intentionally put wedges between us and those we love? There are a lot of ways we can answer this question.
For now, let’s take a look at these 5 areas:
1 When Living the Gospel with Unbelieving Family Invite Christians Too
It can be really hard to share the truth over and over again only to have it be rejected.
That is when I think it is especially wise that we bring other Christians into the situation with us. Over the holidays, one very practical way to do this is to extend family invitations to friends from church. See if there is anyone who will be lonely this year and invite them to your gathering.
This fills the need of the believer in your life for community, gives a living example of what the church is to the unbeliever in your family, and provides opportunities for someone else to speak love and truth into their lives.
Through this, our loved ones can see that this message we proclaim really does have a transformative effect on not only our lives but others’ lives as well.
2 Work on the Relationship
It is critical to our witness that we don’t view people as projects. No one wants to be a project. We want real relationships. We can all tell when someone just wants something from us rather than truly wanting to get to know us.
This can be hard as believers because we love our unbelieving friends and family so much. We long for them to know what we know. BUT, we must consider the whole person. Speak the truth. Tell them about Christ and the glorious gospel whenever the opportunity arises but share their whole lives with them.
3 Pray Before Meals
This is a very simple, relatively non-confrontational way to keep Christ foremost in your heart during the conversation and remind non-Christians that there is something different here.
Maybe go one step beyond and ask if there is anything you can pray for and then genuinely pray for their requests out loud before the meal begins.
This may seem like a simple thing but as Christians, we believe God hears and answers the prayers of his people. It also provides a living witness that there is something very different about us. We never know when the simple truths we speak back to God and the humble, intimate way we approach him may speak volumes.
4 Pray and Ask Others to Pray
In prayer, the Christian is speaking to a real God who really is able to accomplish his purposes.
He really can cause change in hearts and he really has commanded that we seek Him. There is power in prayer because there is power in the God we pray too. For this reason, we should humbly seek His face and ask that he would work in the hearts and lives of our friends and family so that they would turn to him.
Involving our churches in this means that more people are begging God for the same thing. It also means that more people know about our efforts; they can keep us accountable and look for ways to come alongside us in the effort.
Evangelism is not a single person’s mission. It is the work of the church as a whole, and prayer plays a vital role.
5 Rest in God’s sovereignty
God is ultimately in control of all things. We can rest in that. A right understanding of God’s sovereignty leads us to prayer and evangelism on behalf of our unsaved friends and family members because we know that only God can save. A right understanding of God’s sovereignty also gives us the rest we need.
The salvation of our friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers doesn’t depend on us. We are joyful instruments in the Lord’s hands. It is our prayer that he would find us faithful tools to be used for his glory while we rest in the fact that he is the only one who accomplishes the work of salvation.
So rest friends, knowing that God is in control. He has placed us in all the relationships we find ourselves. He will equip us to accomplish his will. If we ask him for wisdom, he will generously give it (James 1:5). There is nothing outside of His control.
Living the Gospel with Unbelieving Family
In closing, as you gather with friends and family during the holiday, do so with thankfulness. God has placed you here and he will work in your feeble efforts of living the Gospel with unbelieving family.
Pray and trust Him. It is his generosity that has allowed your loved ones to come into contact with the gospel. This is beautiful and he is always worthy of praise.
Thank you, Katie!
Katie Deckert is a wife and busy mom on a mission to cultivate community in northern Virginia. She is passionate about providing gospel help for hosting so that women everywhere will be equipped to open their hearts and homes to others as they live out the gospel’s radical welcome. She writes about hospitality, homemaking, and cultivating community at her blog Hospitable Homemaker.
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