Jump Start # 2898
Matthew 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parent and cause them to be put to death.”
Our verse today shows the extreme contempt some would have towards those who believed in Jesus. It’s hard for us to imagine our own family turning against us to the point of allowing us to be executed, simply because we believe in Jesus. In the age of tolerance that we live in today, this just seems unfathomable. But it was true, and it did happen.
Thankfully this does not happen today. However there is a very real and often unspoken loneliness that many experience with their families. I know of several people in which they are the only N.T. Christian in their family. These believers often face pressures and situations that the rest of us are completely unaware of. The family takes a vacation. Seems wonderful, but for the lone Christian it is often tense, difficult and puts him in tough situations. The family doesn’t have time nor interest in worshipping on Sunday. To the lake, on a boat, is where the family will be and everyone is expected to be there. In the evenings, it’s to the Casino for a night of gambling. The young Christian is teased about his faith. He’s encouraged to drink alcohol with the rest of the family. The family vacation isn’t fun for the Christian. The values he loves are not those of his family. Holiday times are not much better. Birthday parties. Family reunions. Home for the holidays is not a warm and wonderful experience for the one who is the only one following Christ.
There are some lessons for us:
First, so many do not know what this young Christian experiences. He doesn’t say much. He loves his family, but they are making it so difficult for him. He sees whole families in the congregation, worshipping together, going out to eat together, and how he dreams and wishes that his family was like that. But it’s not.
Second, this young Christian carries a lot of guilt, shame and pressure. He wants to follow the Lord, but his family won’t let up on pushing him to do things he no longer believes in. He wonders if he is doing something wrong. He’s tried talking to his family but they won’t listen. They don’t seem to care. He finds that he has less and less in common with them. He feels very lonely.
Third, more than once he has thought about just leaving the Lord. His family sure seems to have a good time. They don’t worry about consequences, the feelings of others, or what is right. Fun is all that they are after and they’re doing that to the max. Maybe he should just quit this walk with Jesus. Maybe he ought to just join them. He knows following the Lord is right, but it sure seems hard.
I wonder how many in the congregation you attend are just like the picture I painted. They show up Sunday bright and early. They seem to be doing well, but deep, deep inside, their very family is tearing them apart. They are afraid to say anything, because everyone else seems to be doing well.
What can be done when one is the only Christian in their family? Here are a few thoughts:
First, the shepherds need to be on this. They need to see who falls into a situation like this. Who needs some special attention because not only are they alone, but they are suffering from their families. Get out that church director and go through it. Who doesn’t have family there? What’s the story? Do they have family that are Christians but live elsewhere? Or, might they have family in the area but none of them are Christians? Pay some special attention to those who are alone like this.
Second, give some personal attention and encouragement to those who may be facing trials from their own family. Build them up and help them with dealing with things. Offer suggestions. Let them know that you’d like to meet their family and maybe some good can be done.
Third, don’t forget to include those who are alone to your holiday events and other social activities. Rejected by family and ignored by the church is a terrible place to be in. Make sure that doesn’t happen. Do what you can to make a difference.
Fourth, above all things keep an eye on their faith. The pressures from family can be all it takes for some to give and quit. You do not what that to happen. Encouragement and support, beyond the church building goes a long way.
Families turning on family—it’s really nothing new. Cain did it. Joseph’s brothers did it. It happened in the days of Jesus. And, it happens today. And, sometimes we find out that we have a closer bond and more in common with our church family than we do our physical family. That’s hard for some to understand. It’s harder still for some to see who really loves them and has their back.
Look around and see who you might be able to help.