Four reminders for reaching family members in today’s culture

by Oct 6, 2022Uncategorized

When you think about heaven, who do you most want to be there with you? Most of us sincerely want our relatives to be with us in eternity – whether they are closely or distantly related. Whether we’ve experienced tension or more happy times, the truth is that there will be no tension between family members in heaven. But sometimes, our relatives seem to be the hardest ones to talk to about spiritual things. Even in the closest of families, the idea sometimes prevails – two things we do not talk about are politics and religion. So, how do you go about reaching those in your own family?

Four ideas may be both encouraging and helpful.

Take heart – Jesus understands.

Not only does He know all about us and care for us, but He has “been there and done that.” When He walked the earth as perfect God and perfect man, He experienced the same challenges we face.

In John 7, as the Jews were preparing to celebrate one of their greatest festivals, Jesus’ brothers had a challenge for Him. That challenge was basically “If you really feel you are the Messiah, do not hide here in Galilee. Instead go to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and perform your miracles there. That way, you can convince everybody.”  It was a suggestion filled with sarcasm. The reason was, as John 7:5 tells us, “For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.”

Therefore, when we speak to God on behalf of our relatives, we are speaking to one who understands our pain. His own family was not open to His claims. Our family members may be equally as resistant to the truth about Christ.

Do not limit what God can do – and who He can reach

If most of us were honest, we can see just about anybody coming to Christ more easily than our own relatives. The reason may be that we have tried so many times to speak to them and saw their refusal to listen, let alone believe. As we reflect on those conversations, we feel so discouraged that at times we could imagine the most hardened atheist coming to Christ but not them. If they are steeped in religion, that can make the situation harder. Even in the New Testament, the common people were more open to His message than the Pharisees and Sadducees.

First of all, recognize the reality that you cannot bring them to Christ. Do not take that responsibility upon your shoulders. That is something only God can do. Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Unless the Holy Spirit works in their lives, they will never see their need of a Savior.

That is why they need your fervent, daily prayers. But pray in faith. God promises to answer the prayer of faith. You might be asking, “But how can I do that when as you just admitted, I can see just about anyone coming to Christ but them?”

Think of someone else that you have heard about, read about, talked to, etc., who came to Christ – someone who many thought never would. Then recognize that if God could get through to them, He can get through to your own family member.

You might even mediate on Acts 9 – the conversion of Saul who became Paul the apostle. He was a man who breathed “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 9:1) If God could get through to him, could He not get through to anyone in your family? Do not limit an awesome God.

Pray for another voice

Sometimes it is easier to receive something we desperately need to hear from someone outside the family. A friend who is not related to us may in love confront us about our self-centered attitude. Although family members have pointed to the same, we accepted our friend’s diagnosis while ignoring what family members have told us for years.

Often, it takes someone outside the family to convince those inside the family of their need of Christ. I have been privileged to lead many to Christ whose family members have been trying to reach for years. I am convinced that one of the reasons they listened to me is that I was not part of their family. They received from me the truth that  they had difficulty receiving from them.

You might respond, “But I do not know of anyone they have contact with who is a believer.” Keep in mind that God is still on the throne. He could bring someone across their path tomorrow that you had no idea they were going to meet.

Have a method of sharing the gospel

There are those relatives that are open to your explanation of the gospel. But the reason many believers do not talk with them is that they have no method to talk to anyone. Additionally, a family member not open today could be open tomorrow. Should they suddenly be diagnosed with cancer or have a setback of some other kind, they may be open to talking about spiritual things. Unless you have a method of sharing the gospel, though, you are less likely to speak to them. A method serves as a roadmap as you progress from showing our need as sinners to His provision in Christ. Also, in the midst of what could become an emotional discussion, it keeps you from getting sidetracked or going down “rabbit trails.”

You might consider mastering our Bad News Good News approach taught in our May I Ask You a Question booklet. Many have used it to lead their relatives to the Savior. Whatever method you use, though, must explain three things clearly. Those are: (1) all of us are sinners, (2) Christ died for our sins and rose again, and (3) through trust in Christ alone we receive His free gift of eternal life. Help them understand what many overlook – eternal life is free because Christ paid the price of our sin by dying as our substitute and rising again.

Relatives are not always the easiest ones to reach. But always bear in mind that God can do the unthinkable. You were not beyond His reach and neither are they. Do your part with expectant faith; look to God to do His.