As a Christian, a genuine Christian, there is a perpetual desire to see our loved ones come to understand what we have experienced. A real, living relationship with God which changes our life both now and in eternity.
Last Saturday evening at our youth meeting, I once again dealt with a question which had been anonymously asked by one of them. The question was,
“How do I deal with a close family member who refuses to believe in God, or that going to church has any benefit?”
Even though Christians have no greater desire than to see their closest family and friends come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s often difficult to talk to them.
Note: If you’re not a Christian, then you may think the simple answer is to not talk about it. If someone wants to be a Christian, that’s up to them. Don’t push them. That would be the easy option, and in some ways it would be the best thing for everyone. However, the simple fact is, as a Christian, we must obey the commands of Christ and one of them is that we share the gospel with others.
I will relay my notes as I dealt with this question. There are three primary points which I considered. I will only elaborate where I must for clarity.
Main reading: John 1:35-42 (Andrew tells his brother, Simon, about Jesus Christ).
1. The fact that you know this (know they don’t believe in God), appears to imply there has been discussion on the matter.
This is good: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). It’s what Andrew did. We all must do this. Tell people, including our family.
2. There appears to be an agnostic, if not atheistic, hostility towards God.
i) Should this stop you?
Mark 5:1-20. Note verses 17-19, “And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” The locals were hostile towards Christ, wanting Him to leave, and yet Christ told the man he delivered from demon possession to stay there and be a witness.
ii) How do you deal with hostility?
Rarely will hostility work against the hostile (that is, if someone gets upset when you speak of Christ to them, responding similarly is not advised). “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). See also Matthew 5:38-48.
Debating and arguing rarely wins (it has its place). Jesus sent the man back and used the life of this joyful Christian to be a testimony to the people, “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (Mark 5:20).
3. Why do they refuse to believe in God, or see the benefit in church? Evolution? Lack of evidence?
Here are the hindrances…
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Their heart is so deceitful, they not only sin (Rom 3:23), but they love their sin. See also Romans 1:16-32; 2 Timothy 3:4.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He blinds the minds of unbelievers with lies, and the pleasures of sin because he fears the gospel of Christ, and its power to bring light and life. See also Ephesians 2:1-2.
(There are ample texts which outline the importance of living a godly life. It’s not for no reason. God demands a holy life).
“Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without” (1 Timothy 3:7). Speaking of the elder, you don’t become an elder and then live a godly life. You can only be an elder if you have a good testimony to begin with.
The point is this, far too many non-Christians can point the finger at hypocrites. They know what God demands from His people better than you think.
Lastly, pray. There is no substitute for prayer. God alone can open the heart of anyone, you can’t do it.