So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Some of us are very troubled about the lack of faith or unbelief of some people in our families. Our brothers or sister, mothers or fathers; who do not believe in Christ. Funerals are hard enough when the deceased is a believer. What do we say when they were not?
The truth is that the love of God remains. The truth is that we love them and God loves them and salvation is God’s work. These are our anchors.
In the years leading up to the end of my grandmother’s life, just like some people I know today, I was very concerned about her salvation. When we were younger, she told us she was an atheist, and I never forgot that.
But sometime, and how it happened I do not know, she joined the neighborhood church, a few blocks from her home. Unfortunately, I always assumed it was a “liberal church” that did not embrace or teach the gospel. I was wrong.
It is funny that I was earnestly praying Acts 16:31 while God had already been working in my grandma’s life. It was a case of, “before you call, I will answer”.
Everyone’s stories are different, but that is part of my story. I have a brother who is a believer and my wife’s brother is a believer. But I know people who have siblings who do not believe, and who are the only Christians in their families of origin.
The New Testament also speaks to the possibility of being married to a non-believer. Marriage is hard enough when your Christian spouse is not very mature in Christ, but the Bible addresses the scenario where they don’t even have Christ.
Jesus was raised by loving parents, who were told who he was; but that revelation did not get passed on to his siblings. When he left home, at age 30, and began his ministry we read about, his family thought he was crazy (Mk. 3:21). When they stood outside where he was teaching and called for him, Jesus said that his family (brothers and sisters) are like these who obey God (Mk. 3:31-5).
Later, his brothers did get saved; and we have Jude and James, the authors of those two books of the Bible. If Jesus was misunderstood and rejected by his brothers, it might happen to you. Jesus warns of betrayal from the family of his disciples, because of their belief in him (Lk. 21:16), and seems to say that it will be more common that not, for his disciples to leave family and their homes because of him (Mk. 10:29-30, Matt. 19:29).
Then, we also have the hard word from Jesus, that we will hate our families of origin, compared to how much we will love him (Lk. 14:26). In the NT epistles, “brothers and sisters”, means other Christians. But, there is counsel and instruction about one’s immediate family. For example, we are to take care of our parents (1 Tim. 5:8).
So, on the one hand, we have the declaration, “You shall be saved, and you whole household”, which I personally applied upward, to my grandparents and have applied to my parents, wife and child; and I believe in it. I wrestled with that verse and believed it and prayed it. I claimed it.
But, I have had many friends with unbelieving siblings or parents. What about them? We can draw some comfort from Jesus. His family (brothers and probably sisters) did not believe in him, until after his resurrection.
We have a savior who can identify with our suffering. He was perfect, did nothing wrong, and was obedient to Father all his life. Yet, to this day, people reject him.
My advice would be to lean into him. Walk close with your savior. That is who he is and he cares about the salvation of those you love, more than you do.
Keep caring, keep loving, keep praying, and keep believing. Even while someone we love is unsaved, in unbelief, resisting and rejecting the good news; we can rest in God, surrendering to him as The Almighty, continually sharing our broken heart with him and keeping fresh.
The alternative is aggravated grief, bitterness, and lack of faith on our part that will morph into deception and delusion about God’s goodness, where we question God and drift from our faith in the Lord’s faithfulness (Heb. 2:1).
The Bible says that the Lord is close to and heals the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18, 147:3) because our hearts do get broken in this life. So, you have loved someone and your heart is broken. Take your heart, open it to the Lord, over and over and over.
Jesus wept. It wasn’t fake. God weeps.
When I was in rebellion, God wept over me. Someone who loved me wept about me. They wept with God. Their prayers, when I was lost, were tears.
And I found my way back to the Father.
Have you wept lately over the lost?
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