QUESTION: Recently, we had a party and invited church family and regular family. My regular family told me they were not coming because they feel like outcasts because we have more to talk about with our church family. I don’t know how to feel about this because a part of me is at peace keeping my distance as there are deeper issues, yet I’m asking myself how is this a good representation of Jesus, how does He feel about walking away from “family” …Basically, I’m more concerned with disappointing Jesus with this situation.
This is such a great question and I’m guessing this is something many others have had to deal with, including myself to some regard.
Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” In context, this is speaking of a believer’s relationship with unbelievers. There’s a lot to consider here, but let’s focus on two things. First, your goal should always be peace. Peace is something Jesus paid for! But secondly, notice the “if it is possible” part. This means you do your part to be peaceful from your end, but we CANNOT control what others do.
Let’s keep reading in this same passage of scripture. Look at Romans 12:19-21, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Ok this is strong language when we’re talking about family members not wanting to come to birthday parties, but if we understand the principle behind this, it will answer the situation at hand.
First, never take your own revenge. What does that look like? “Well, they wouldn’t come to my kid’s party so I won’t go to there kid’s party.” That’s revenge. “They stopped calling me to say happy birthday so I stopped calling them.” “They talk bad about me so I can talk bad about them.” These are all statements from someone looking for revenge. But the Lord says let Him handle that part. Now look at your job instead, it’s to overcome evil with good and if your enemy is hungry, hurting, or needy and you can help, you help. Now don’t be tripped up by that word “enemy”. It simply means “a hostile one.” Remember unbelievers will often act hostile against the truth, for the god of this world has blinded them and they cannot see truth for what it is.
Now look at 1 Peter 3:16, “… keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” Give your family no reason and no real ammunition against you. Stay on the side of love and stay on the side of peace, never stooping to the same level. That’s what the Word says about it.
Now, let’s address this disappointing Jesus part of your question. Look at Mark 10:29-30, “Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” When we are born again, we are born into a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ. When we see that our life isn’t just about living for us but for a greater purpose focused around Jesus, it’s really hard not to let that direct your conversation, your fellowship. (In fact any Christian who doesn’t yearn for godly conversation and spiritual fellowship with other believers is possibly backslidden or at least complacent.) It seems that the Lord knew we may have to walk away from others, even natural family members, that wouldn’t want to follow Him with us. He’s not disappointed by that, as long as we aren’t divisive or living in strife. Look at Proverbs 26:20-21 (AMP),
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention ceases.
As coals are to hot embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man to inflame strife.” Your job is to live your life towards Jesus and as you do so people will come and go, but you must not add wood to the fire of contention. Eventually, the fire will go out. I could tell you story after story where that has happened in my own life as I’ve taken this very same path.