Love is Stronger Than Argument- Romance Your Unsaved Family To Christ
Modern Pilgrim #33- The Good Shepherd sends all his pilgrims back to their homes for a furlough. The hope is that each one will be able to encourage more of their family members to join them on the journey with Him. Our pilgrim receives a chilly welcome when she returns to her home.
Can anyone push your buttons as much as your family? Why is that? Familiarity. For example, they can regale others with tales of childhood mess-ups. Like the time I tried to help my Grandma Robins with housecleaning and polished her wooden stairs with Pledge. I almost broke my grandma, and the fall flared up her phlebitis. She never even scolded me, dear woman.
Family can write ballads about your shortcomings and personality weaknesses. Like the time my brother turned out the basement lights on me (it was a creepy basement) and I became so enraged, a slew of cuss words flew out of my mouth while I raced up the stairs to pound him. I met my mother on the top stair. We didn’t use those words in our family.
I’ve been thinking about family a lot lately. My Dad’s recently discovered heart problem became untenable. He entered hospice a few weeks ago then slipped into the arms of Jesus two weeks later. I spent a goodly amount of time with him during his last days. During those times, our familiarity with one another translated into the medicine of laughter. My favorite conversations centered around stories from his own childhood. A favorite involved he and his brother finding some abandoned eggs in the family barn and making plans to use them as bombs out of the loft window. Their plan backfired, literally, as the rotten eggs exploded all over them when they picked them up.
How we laughed over that and other stories those last weeks of Dad’s earthly life. Memory sharing like that, can be filled with joy. Memories can also evoke pain, embarrassment, and a whole trunk load of negative emotions. I’ve experienced that with both my own family and my husband’s family.
Sometimes familiarity and shared memories become weapons. I remember integrating into my husband’s family in our dating days and early marriage years. Christians comprised the minority in the Stults family then, and get togethers, to me, felt like a Roman Coliseum event. Ken’s beliefs, and mine, were questioned, mocked, and challenged with great volume and enthusiasm. God’s name came up a lot, but not in a good way.
Uncomfortable lost folk in the family liked to remind Ken of his wild, pre-Christ days, eagerly sharing old stories of his past moral failings and embarrassing episodes. They shared funny, kind ones too, but not as often. I believe they felt akimbo with this new Ken. He didn’t want to drink and smoke with them anymore. He didn’t talk or behave the way he used to. I imagine it unnerved them.
I watched my husband, so new in the faith himself, struggle to stay strong, around his family. Satan hates to take any losses and so he will do anything to sway a new believer back to the old ways. Sometimes he uses family.
You may come from people like mine, with a multi-generational heritage of godliness. I’ve discovered, we are a rare breed. Understand that most people around you must live out the gospel to at least one or two family members that think it’s all bunko. Jesus certainly did. Remember how his family told people he was crazy? (Mark 3:21)
Here’s a few things God taught me about standing strong amidst unsaved family. He changed me from a fire-breathing, judgmental dragon Christian into a dove and serpent (Matthew 10:16) believer who helped nudge some of my in-laws to Christ. He taught me how to use love as my greatest weapon. Every believer with unsaved friends and family, needs to decide whether you want to win arguments or souls.
- Don’t take Satan’s bait. (Genesis 4:7) That will look different for each of us. My weakness was I hated being treated like I was stupid and foolish. That’s pride, friends. And Satan used it against me until I wised up. If you are regularly crossing swords with an unsaved family member, take note of what really gets your hackles up. That’s where Satan will tempt you. Don’t. Take. The. Bait.
- Don’t neglect your prayer life or your armor. (Ephesians 6) Remember, your unsaved family member is in bondage to Satan. You cannot expect them to act otherwise but it hurts when they do, so be prepared. It feels like the battle is between you and your loved one, but it isn’t. It’s part of the war in the heavenlies. You will be much better served by spending more time praying for them than arguing with them.
- Ask questions when specific beliefs or doctrines of yours are attacked. (John 6:44) “I’m wondering how you came to believe ________________?” This will give you insight for your prayers. Is their unbelief an intellectual decision? Is it an emotional one because God didn’t do something, they asked him to do? Is it a fear of something? For years, Ken’s father told us he didn’t want to know God because he felt certain that, “God would make me give up drinking and sailing on Sundays.” Knowing their “Why” can transform your prayers from general to specific and powerful.
- Stay humble. You DON’T have all the answers. (Philippians 2:3)
- Become active in your love. (1 Corinthians 13) Lost folk’s hearts are moved when they taste a bit of God’s loving-kindness, shared generously through you.
Are you at odds with an unsaved family member? What can you do, through the Holy Spirit, to change that dynamic? Are you willing to be thought of as a fool, like Jesus was? Are you willing to humble yourself, like he did on the cross? Lost hearts are hardened against the gospel through arguing and rejection. They can be won over when a path is created by love and humility.