Each family, if they are typical, has a loved one that simply does not want to hear about the Lord or they say that they already know about Him and don't want to keep hearing about it over and over. Yet their lives don't show the gift of the Lord in them. It is so frustrating to watch that person. You know that they don't see the truth. You know that no matter what you say, they want to go down a different path. What do you do? Do you pound them over the head with scriptures telling them that hell is at their feet if they don't repent, repent, repent? Do you literally get out that family Bible and whack them upside the head for being so dense? Do you go on a thirty day fast? Do you beg God to zap them like they so richly deserve? Do you give up? What happens to that person?
I am struggling with this very thing. We have a loved one that is following a path that will ultimately lead to hell. This person is oblivious to it. They do the most obnoxious things. They ignore their family as if they did not exist, that is, until they need or want something, more often than not. They act like their friends are much more valuable despite the fact that each so-called friend in their lives has let them down many times. They promise to visit after having decided to live as far as possible from the rest of the family, give a particular time to be there, then blow it off completely not bothering to let anyone know that they aren't coming. From time to time, they say that they are seeking God. I believe that. When that person was a young child, they prayed a prayer to have the Lord in their lives. Are they now lost? Where does God stand in this?
Interesting questions, aren't they? Maybe your loved one is on drugs or lost in a bad lifestyle. Possibly they have decided to follow a cult group or become rich in the world while turning their back on the Lord. They could be mad at God or a family member who said they were Christian but didn't appear to be one to that person. I could name so many reasons for people to go in a direction contrary to the path God has laid down for the human race as a whole and each individual as His child. Anyone can find an excuse to lead a secular life. Hey, it's FUN, right? God hates good times and fun. Just ask any 'righteous' person. God doesn't do anything for me. He never gave me anything. The church crowd turns it's back on me. Nobody loves me. How can they? I'm such a worm. I'm no good for anyone. Just ask (fill in the blank....Dad, Mom, spouse, sibling, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, friend, co-worker, peers, teacher, preacher...you name it. Somebody has condemned one too many times.).
Maybe this happened, maybe it didn't. That does not matter at this point because the person is going in the opposite direction from God. How do we help them do a 'one eighty' and get into the fold?
First things first. Do not choose to say to them that they are doing horrible things and that God hates them. I've heard of people doing that. It drives the person far away from the Lord. Choose instead to love them and SAY so. We rejoice in the fact that the person is still alive, therefore reachable. We rejoice in the truth that God is ultimately in control of the situation.
1 Corinthians 13:6, "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;"
In other words, be glad in the Lord that this person is part of your life no matter how they act right now. Rejoice in the Lord! He can handle this!
1 Corinthians 13, "...Charity suffereth long, and is kind; "
Translation...LOVE has amazing patience. It does not mean that you suffer through all they do to you, hating every minute that they do this to you. You are not a doormat. It simply means that you have to wait upon the Lord to do the one thing you can never do, get through to the loved one. Love is kind. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is have 'tough love'. It is not easy but sometimes necessary.
1 Corinthians 13:7, "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
Love bears incredible things. Just ask any parent. The child is obnoxious. You can't control her/him. The kid is a 'terrible two' or worse, a teenager who has a mind of their own! Eeek! Yet, regardless of what they do, you love them because they are yours....your flesh, your blood, your miracle.
Those are just a few verses to help. What? That doesn't really answer the question. Sure it does. You have to love them, no matter what, no matter who. Do not give up on them! Do not condemn. Let them know that no matter what they are doing, you love them. The lost one needs to know that someone out there loves them. Actually, the reason they are so rebellious is because they are trying to find that lost love themselves. Do you remember when you were doing that very same thing?
Then, you will want to pray. That's a given, you say. Is it? Many people who are angry at a loved one would rather gripe than pray. But take heart. God IS in control. He does hear your prayers. It may take years. It may only happen after you are gone to be with the Lord. Yet, God does not forget a single heartfelt prayer, not one.
Matthew 21:22, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Do you believe that verse? It says ALL THINGS! This is a promise from God. 'But' you say, 'don't they have free will?' Yes, they do. But God is patient and extremely merciful. When He hears prayer for a loved one, He understands because He has been there. His heart is in the situation too. He does not want to lose one lamb.
Luke 15:4-6, "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
'But that's about livestock, not family members.' Really? How about the next verse?
Luke 15:7, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
In that same chapter (Matt 21,Luke 15) Jesus gives a parable about a son who decides to ask for his inheritance from his father and leave to have fun. When he has squandered all the money, enjoyed all the sins he could find, he finds himself broke and working for a pig farmer. Not great for a guy who grew up knowing that pigs are nasty to eat, unclean says the Lord. So, he figures out that even if his Dad is mad at him, he would be better off at home. So back he goes. Dad must have been looking down that road for a long time and it had not paid off. All of a sudden, Dad sees what he has been waiting for, his child is walking down the driveway. He looks like a beggar in rags. He stinks like a pig for heaven's sake! Yuck! But does Dad care? Nah. He embraces the lost child, calls for his servants to bring a bathrobe to cover the rags and gives him a ring. What's the ring for? In those days, if you wanted a charge account, you had to seal things in wax with a family crest. That ring was the family logo. Dad yells to get a cow and roast it for a celebration because his missing kid is back. 'Let's have a party!!'
Does that seem like someone who is mad at the kid for taking all that cash and throwing it to the wind? Nope, Dad is happy and relieved. He welcomes him home instead of condemning him for the bad lifestyle. Don't you know, that father was praying a prayer every single day to see that child again. And God heard him. God answered the prayer.
So, the answers to the questions at the beginning? Love and pray. Pray for them continuously. Don't let a day go by. Talk to the Lord about this. Bringing Him into the problem is always the answer. He knows so much more than we do. He knows the end from the beginning. Love them. The Lord shows us that 'God IS love' (I John 4:8) so how can love be bad? Maybe we should see the whole verse.
1 John 4:7-8, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
Let us LOVE one another. There you go. Does it matter what they have done? Does it say to tell them like it is? Does it say throw them out if they don't do what you want? Nope. Not one of those things. It does say to love each other.
I will start things off right here. To my loved one, Maybe you have missed the part in this article that says I love you and pray for you everyday. I do. Frankly, I know what you have been doing. No one had to tell me. I just know. You know that God doesn't like what you are doing and neither do I. BUT, God loves YOU and I love YOU no matter what you are doing. When you were small, you told the Lord that you wanted Him to be with you always. You remember, don't you? Well, He won't give up on you now. Please do not give up on Him. Please don't give up on us either. We are here for you. Please read the next paragraph as if it was written just for you because this whole article is being written out of my love for you.
So, bottom line. Love the lost one with all your heart and pray that they hear the Lord calling them. He certainly is. If you are that loved one or if you have never given your heart to Jesus, take the time right now. If you have done so but walked away, if you are not where you should be in your life, come back to the Lord Jesus. He is calling you right now. Do you think it is an accident that you are reading this? No way! Jesus died a horrible death on a cross so that you could live. Please consider asking Him to forgive your sins because He will!! You say that you have done too many sins to be forgiven? That the things you have done are too gross for forgiveness? There is no sin too big for God except to never ask Him into your heart. When you ask forgiveness, He will give it. Then ask Jesus to come and live inside you forever. He LOVES doing that! Believe me, it's the best decision you will ever make in your life! Welcome to the family of God!