Living in a non-Christian family
How to promote the gospel to your parents and siblings
As Christians we all want our families to follow Jesus like we do. So the most important thing to remember is that God is sovereign and he is the one who changes people’s hearts - so pray. This expresses your dependence upon God, it expresses your love for your family, it expresses your desire for them to be saved which is also God’s desire. God can do it and will do it if he wants.
However you must also be patient. As a sovereign God, he is the one who chooses if, how and when people come to him. While we may want our family to become Christians tomorrow, this may not be how God has planned things. All we can do is wait and pray. Trust that God loves your family just as much (if not more so) than you do and that he is acting in their circumstances.
Living godly lives
After prayer, the most effective way you can respond to your non-Christian family is in the way you live. As Christians, we are being changed to become more and more like Jesus every day. In Colossians 3 Paul talks about taking off the old sinful self and putting on the new godly self. This new godly self is characterised by patience, love, kindness and so on. Such changes in your life will become evident to your friends and family and will hopefully lead them to ask more about your faith.
Godly living can show itself in many ways - the way you serve your family, the way you treat others, your attitude to work and recreation and so on. But I suggest that it will be most obvious in the way you handle conflict within your family. As Christians, we believe in a God of justice and truth, as well as mercy and compassion. Therefore when we deal with conflict, we need to make sure we are just and merciful as well. This will mean listening to each other, discussing things reasonably together, showing compassion, mercy and love when you are wronged and seeking forgiveness when you know you have wronged others.
Choosing when to speak up
When you do have an opportunity to speak about Christianity to your family, be gentle and gracious rather than confrontational. Ask God to give you the right words. It is often far easier and less threatening to them for you to talk about your own experiences and understanding of Christianity, rather than challenging them directly about their understanding of Christianity. Remember that you are not responsible for convincing them of the gospel - that’s up to God. Your responsibility is to present Christianity in the most clear and helpful way you can.
If you feel it is appropriate to confront them, then choose your arguments carefully. My parents and siblings are hostile non-Christians too and at family gatherings my siblings like to see if they can make me angry by saying something they know I disagree with. I have learnt that if they are being confrontational on purpose you will never have an honest conversation with them but when they are speaking to you normally that is when they might be more open to the gospel. Choosing these moments and not reacting in the confrontational ones can make a huge difference in how your family will respond to the gospel.
Finally, remember that you are an imperfect Christian, and while you may fail in your love and commitment to your family, God will not. It means no matter how badly you may evangelise your family, God is big enough and powerful enough to use your efforts to change their hearts. So don’t give up!
Thanks to the Q&A team from christianity.com.au for this article.