Often as Christians we are encouraged to be big picture thinkers. Don’t focus solely on yourself or those directly surrounding you, but have a heart for the world. I absolutely agree with this. It is imperative that we as Christians “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
However, all too often one demographic slips through the cracks of the Great Commission from our Lord and Savior. A group of people that we see regularly and love passionately, but sometimes forget completely, our families.
This applies to those whose family members have accepted Jesus as their Savior and those who have not.
I was recently at a family reunion on my Mom’s side of the family, the Steiners. At the reunion, we wanted to celebrate my Grams’ 80th birthday, and she had one wish: to have devotions and share time each night. As we sat around the room, numbering at about 35 people, my Grams shared her life story.
What a powerful moment it was to hear about the moment my Grams came to know Jesus, the same night my Grandpa did. To hear how the Lord had protected them, along with my Mom and uncles from incredibly dangerous situations, and provided for them in times of need, it impacted me.
To hear my Grams tell the love story of her and my Grandpa and then their love story with the Lord completely overwhelmed me. I never got to meet my Grandpa Loren. He died from cancer before I was born, but I have grown up hearing about his legacy and what an incredible man he was. I see the fruits of his labor in my Mom, in whom, no matter how hard I try, I can’t find one fault. I see how dearly my Gram’s loved him and misses him, and wonder at what he would have been like. But because my Grams took the initiative to share her testimony, for one of the first times, I feel like I know him now.
All of this made me think about my siblings, cousins and parent’s stories of salvation. I was shocked that I couldn’t tell you how some of them came to Christ, I just knew they had come to Christ, no specifics. Then I thought about all of the strangers and people with whom I am entirely less familiar that I have told about what the Lord has done in my life. Think about that for a second in your own life… I can’t speak for those of you reading, but in my case, the strangers outweighed my immediate family members.
While this is extremely unfortunate, the good news is we can change this. This year at work we have focused on sharing your legacy. This initiative starts at the home. It is imperative that we know the journey of those before us in our families for reasons like, learning from past experiences and trying to follow in their righteous footsteps.
Inversely, for family members that are not believers, the relational part of your evangelism is already done for you with your family members. You know your family members, and they know you. Share your salvation story. It might be incredibly difficult, as sometimes things are with our loved ones, but think about the responsibility you have for their eternity.
I once heard a speaker say “How much do you have to hate someone to not share the Love of our Savior with them?” This hit my right between the eyes. I thought to myself, “I don’t hate anyone, especially my family! I couldn’t love them more!” But have I shared the Gospel with them? Thankfully I can call all of my earthly brothers and sisters, my brothers and sisters in Christ as well, as well as my parents. But I have a way bigger family than just them, I need to get to work.
I encourage you to, as you seek the lost and seek people to make disciples, start at home. Don’t neglect the people under your roof and closest to your heart. It is equally important that they see your “love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23) This goes for estranged family members as well. Sometimes because of the overwhelming amounts of love that exists between family members, we can hurt each other the most. I implore you to make those relationships right with each other, and with the Lord.
No earthly struggle or argument is worth eternal separation. You should want nothing more for them than to see them on streets of gold shouting the praises of our living King, our Lord and Savior, together in eternity.
Take the initiative and start the conversation with your loved ones today, don’t let family fall through the cracks.