Following hard after God is not for the faint of heart. It takes strength from above and faithful determination to do the work of obedience.
If living as a Christian were easy, as some insist, the whole world would flock to their heavenly Father and devote their lives to Him. If it were effortless, families would not be divided and friends would not part. But it’s not.
Christ warned us what to expect in Matthew 10.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36
A mother’s wounded heart
I stroke the glossy, little girl face with hazel eyes and mischievous grin that smiles back at me from the thick brown photo album. You were a stubborn child. I’d hoped you’d be stubborn for the truth, adamant about staying true to God’s word when others refused, but the snare of the world caught you.
I flip to another page where her older sister’s chubby cheeks and innocent blue eyes brings tears to mine. I thought you were both prepared. It has broken this mother’s heart that you were not.
Repeated pleadings to listen to truth have fallen like seed on stony ground. I miss them beyond words, but can’t follow them down the path they’ve chosen.
Not only have I lost all my immediate family and two of my five children to the ideology of the world, but those once closest to me are more like enemies now, in spiritual terms, just as Christ said.
Christ’s truth will do that to a family. Because once you’ve chosen to stand firm in what God holds true, you can’t flail in the sea of whatever goes with them anymore. You can’t accept twisted half-truth or misquoted Scripture and pretend it doesn’t matter. Your hand is on the plow now.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62
The painful effect of obedience
When you’re compelled biblically to turn away from family to follow Christ, you’ll be accused of being self-righteous while they clamor you are “judging!”.
They’ll take a single verse here or there out of context to shame you. The most popular being Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
But if we continue reading these verses carefully, Christ isn’t saying we should never speak up and show others why they’re in error, but He says before we can correct someone else, we must have repented of our own sins and not be engaged in the same hypocrisy, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
Paul mentions this same principle in Romans 2:3, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”
If we are living our lives by God’s truth and continually purging our own sins with His help, we are qualified to call out those who live contrary to Him, if we do it with gentleness and godly love. (Even Paul called out Peter for his hypocrisy in Galatians 2:11.)
There are basic tenets of Christianity that we all must live by if we say we are Christians:
- love, revere, and glorify God with our whole being
- accept Jesus Christ as our Savior
- love our fellow brethren
- uphold one man/one woman marriage until death
- uphold the sanctity of life
- obey the truth of the Bible and overcome until the end
But then there are matters of conscience (like food and drink, days of the week to worship, smoking, body piercing, clothing, head coverings and hairstyles, home school or public) that vary between individuals and depend upon personal belief and our current Christian understanding.
These convictions of conscience are what James was referring to in James 4:11-12 when he says not to judge a brother.
They demand what you can’t give
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. John 3:20
Your family doesn’t want you exposing their deeds to the Light. They want you to go along with their choices and keep quiet. They want you to accept their warped version of a Savior who tolerates and approves of that which He died for.
They demand you forgive, but this is not a trespass against you that you can forgive. This is not a ‘seventy times seven’ scenario that Christ spoke of in Matthew 18:21.
Their choice in refusing to yield to God by disregarding what the Bible teaches is against God and you can’t forgive that. You do not have that power.
Only God can forgive.
And for the repentant heart—He will.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Every soul that turns away from their offensive and contradictory life God will forgive.
But until then, we don’t have the power to step into God’s shoes and do the forgiving for Him. We can’t make excuses for our family, friends, and adult children in the name of ‘tolerance’. We can’t accept what is contrary to Christ in the name of ‘forgiveness’.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18
We, who follow after God, are not perfect nor ever will be. But allowing sin in others because we’re still subject to sinning is not biblical. Instead, God calls us to judge righteous judgment.
Yes, dear Christian, we are to judge.
We are to discern right from wrong in ourselves and others, teaching, admonishing, and putting away from us any Christian not living in submission to God. (John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13)
If we don’t, we are agreeing with their choices by our presence at dinners and birthday parties and chats on the phone. Our willingness to overlook their blatant disregard for Christ gives them boldness to continue to do so.
Our love of family (or fellow brethren) should never supersede the love of God and His word. In 1 Corinthians 5, the Corinthian church was guilty of this and Paul rebuked them sharply, “Your glorying is not good. Put away from yourselves that wicked person”.
Christ did not compromise concerning matters of homosexuality, idol worship, adultery, divorce, abortion, rebellion, and living and loving a lie. We shouldn’t either.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1:16
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5
We cannot embrace family or friends (or political parties) that promote the things God hates.
God calls us to be a light by not socializing with those who claim Christ but ignore what He says.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:46
What am I to do?
I love my family. But I can’t let my emotions dictate my conscience, because I am called to come out from among those that embrace the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
I am warned to not keep company with a brother or sister not abiding in the doctrine of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:11).
I am told not to let them into my house (2 John 1:9-11).
These admonitions are not to be taken lightly. Or meant for someone else. It doesn’t matter how close you were or still are.
If anyone leads you away from God by compromising His truth for their convenience, your only choice is to break the relationship, as painful as that might be.
This is a testimony against them.
It shows the seriousness of their choices—adultery, false religion, homosexuality—matter, and teaches your younger children first hand that God is not to be mocked.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7
Stand strong, dear Christian
Your obedience in not keeping company with errant family is an act of love toward God and them. You love them enough to refuse to make light of Christ’s sacrifice and be a party to their self-deception.
Standing up for biblical truth and refusing to go along with compromise is a lonely task.
Standing up for biblical truth and refusing to go along with compromise is a lonely task.
You may even find yourself alone within the church for your ‘intolerant’ and ‘unloving’ behavior when you call out evil for what it is.
Stand strong, dear Christian. It’s better to be right with God and alone than to join hands with family and friends against Him.
Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered. Proverbs 11:21
The pain of obedience is real, but so is the reward.
And never give up hope for your loved ones. God is working in His multifaceted ways we cannot comprehend to bring to light the hidden things of the heart in your family’s lives.
Your obedience in not keeping company with them may be just the thing God uses to open their eyes to His truth.
It may take years before this happens, but what joy you will feel knowing your heart-wrenching obedience to God led to your loved one’s repentance and faithful abiding in Christ.
Dear heavenly Father, we are nothing without You. We know that obeying You is the only way to live, but our hearts hurt deeply for the people You’ve asked us to leave behind.
Soothe our hearts, Father, but most importantly, we ask that our family and friends repent and come to a right knowledge of You.
Give us hope that our relationship with them can be restored. But if that never happens, we ask that you give us the strength to continue in Your faith, nothing wavering.
In Christ’s name, Amen.