A brother in Christ wrote me recently and one of his problems was witnessing to his family. He brought up a legitimate concern that affects us all.
We “let our hair down,” so to speak, when we are around our family. They have known us all or most of our lives, depending on their relationship to us. They have seen us when we were down and when we were up. They know our moods. There is little to nothing hidden from their knowledge of us.
I believe Satan sometimes uses this closeness that we have with certain people, such as our family and even our friends, to his advantage. If we are having difficulty witnessing to our family, it may be due to the old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Instead of Satan using this as a weapon against us, I believe we can use it to our advantage. I’ll explain later.
Let’s face it, we all as Christians with unsaved loved ones around us, more than likely have a problem with this. I can’t imagine any Christian not admitting to having at least some problem in this area, if they are truly honest.
To make it tougher, we are perceived differently by different family members. Our parents will look at us one way, our brothers and sisters another, our children another. Then there is our spouse’s family. Our cousins, uncles, and aunts, are in the picture. In other words, we have the core family under our roof, then those who extend out from there.
Did you notice that I omitted one very important person? I did so purposely, because this person knows us better than anyone. That person is our spouse. My hearts aches for those who may have an unsaved spouse.
After thinking about all this, our anxiety level increases because we see the need and feel the urgency. We also see the difficulty. But what is difficult for us, is not difficult for God.
“24Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.25When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved? 26And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:24-26 NASB)
In this passage Jesus is informing us of the difficulty of a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Why is it more difficult for a rich man? It has to do with the “love” of money. Greed is a powerful stimulant. However, that isn’t my point. My point is, “With God all things are possible.”
When a parent is involved, what could they be thinking when we are trying to witness to them? How about? “I changed their diaper.” “I taught them everything they know.” “I’m the parent. They’re the child. Who are they to tell me what I should do?”
How about our children? “They wanted to run my life when I was young, and they just won’t stop.” “Why can’t they realize that I am an adult and can make my own decisions?” “They’re old fashioned. I wish they would grow with the times.”
And then there is our spouse. “You talk this Christian stuff, but I see a lot of un-Christian behavior coming from you.” “I love you dear, but I see from you what no one else does. You can be hypocritical.” “I know you mean well, but I’m you’re equal, not your child. Quit preaching to me. I’m an adult too.”
This is where Satan uses the “Familiarity breeds contempt” concept, but remember, Jesus says, “With God all things are possible.”
How can we overcome our frailties in family witnessing? We speak of a loving, powerful God, but those who know us see God through our shortcomings, and that really makes it tough, because they may not be getting a very clear picture of Him.
First of all we must realize that there isn’t a one of us Christians who is perfect. Only God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, was able to live a life of total perfection. We are not God! Can we live a more Christ like life than what we do currently? We most certainly can, through God’s power by allowing God’s Spirit to control our lives and glorify the Son.
Keep this in mind too. Even Jesus, God in the flesh, was rejected by those closest to Him. “And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family. And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:57-58 NLT)
Secondly, we need to remember that we can’t save anyone. No matter how eloquent we may be, or how righteous we may come across even to those closest to us. Only God can save. We are a messenger. As strong as our love may be for that person in our life, we cannot save them, but “With God all things are possible.”
No Christian wants to see anyone leave this world without Jesus Christ in their life, especially considering that their eternal destination is hell. That feeling increases exponentially the closer in relationship the person is to us. That’s just natural. So what can we do about it?
We must start with ourselves, keeping in mind again, that only God in the flesh, Jesus, was ever perfect. I think the Apostle Paul provides the appropriate answer when speaking to the Philippians in the following verses.
“1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Shine Brightly for Christ
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing,
15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.
18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.” (Philippians 2:1-18 NLT)
When our loved ones see a change in us, they will be drawn to wonder why. If they ask, that will be our opportunity to tell them that Jesus is important enough in our life to commit it to Him. What if they don’t ask? Keep living for Jesus, not in a self-righteous mode, but because that is what you desire in your heart to do. Jesus put it this way; “37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
As we dedicate our body, soul and mind to glorifying our Savior and Lord, we also turn that person or persons over to Him in prayer, praying for their eyes to be opened. We pray that the Holy Spirit will provide opportunities for us to witness, and while we wait, we prepare.
We feed our spirit in order that we may grow spiritually and be ready to give a witness.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
And finally, we remain persistent. We remain loyal to Jesus come what may. We allow Him to do His work in us.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
Is it guaranteed that your loved one(s) will come to Jesus? It is guaranteed that the door of Heaven will be wide open, and all they have to do is trust Jesus Christ to enter. It is guaranteed that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their need of a Savior. It is guaranteed that the price has been paid. It is guaranteed that Jesus’ arms are opened wide to any who will come to Him.
So what if Satan says to our loved one(s), “Hey, you know what they are really like.” Let us live our lives in such a way that their response to him will be something like, “Yes, I do know what they were really like, but now I see a change, and I want to know more.”
I’ll never forget the time when I was a teenager in church that a husband finally confessed his faith in Jesus after many years of prayer by his wife and the church body. He was one of those fellows that we might say, “Oh he’ll never come to Christ.” (We shouldn’t say that by the way.) His wife was tearfully overjoyed, and as a teenage boy I was touched from watching both of them rejoice in his salvation. Their joy was overflowing to say the least. Will you experience the same joy for your loved one? I cannot answer that, but we should always keep in mind, “With God all things are possible.”