Family Ties (ATP)
Is it a bad thing to want to be around your church family more so than your own family? (parents, siblings, etc. not spouse and kids)
Being a Christian, and I don’t just mean becoming one, but being one, changes a lot of things for the believer. One of the things it can do is alienate you from family and friends, often times only because they don’t like what faith means.
When my life started changing for the better, when I started living a Christian life, people that were close to me were generally happy to see it. They were happy I wasn’t so lost anymore, or going to the places I used to go. That is until I started taking my faith seriously. See, people are ok with a level of Christianity. You believe in God, that’s great, just don’t get weird on us. I actually had that said to me! The problem is, to be a real Christian, it will make you “weird”. Why is that? It is because God calls us away from the world and to Himself. 1 Corinthians 2:14 explains, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” People who don’t understand true faith, do not like true faith, this is where division starts.
Look what Jesus said in Luke 12:51-53, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Again, the reason this division happens is because some will just refuse the way God requires. Often times the division isn’t specific to your “religion” but to your faith. I have found that sometimes these people will wish that you were more like you used to be! How’s that for love? Because I’m uncomfortable with your faith, I wish you would be more like you used to be!
So back to the question, that tension can cause us to not want to be around them anymore. It’s far easier not to deal with all that junk, but to answer this rightfully we have to look at it two ways. One, if these family members are unsaved, us avoiding them may assure they never get saved. We have to look at it as a mission field, not to preach at them all the time, but witness to them. I once heard someone say, “Christians should witness all the time, but speak only when they have to.” I agree wholeheartedly. I have found over the years that life presents the opportunities. People always end up in trial and they always end up coming to the one who knows God.
The other side to this however, is some people take the place of being used to attack us. They will lash out at believers for no reason, they will attack verbally and accuse. They can become quite vile. I have dealt with this too. In these cases we have hard decisions to make, especially if we want to be a witness to them. In these cases there are a few things to consider. What would Jesus do? 1 Peter 2:23 says about Jesus, “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” I want to mix this with another verse. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Our take away is this, it’s not wrong to feel estranged from family, but we must use wisdom before we just separate. We do our part to be peaceful and if we can take the blows, then we take them. However, should their treatment turn into plain abuse, then we may have to make uncomfortable decisions. We may have to back away. If someone else’s toxicity is going to harm us or cause us to back away from God, then it may be time to separate. I would and have simply put it before God with this, “Lord, I want to do right by you, what should I do?” If you do that and refuse to fight, He will make clear what you should do. I have seen even in these tough situations, people come around because though I distanced myself, I didn’t do it with anger and malice. Sow peace, and peace is what you will reap. As much as up to you, you always choose right.