So, I would imagine all Christians go through this experience to one degree or another.
We have family, friends and loved ones who have not yet had the comfort of knowing Jesus as their personal Saviour.
How then to approach them if at all and what to say or NOT say to them. Some in error believe that if you just acknowledge that there is a God somewhere in the heavens, then that is all they need to believe. And, added to that if they live a life without a serious offence, then that is good as well. I once a long time ago believed in somewhat the same things. I hoped that if I was good enough and tried not to do bad things that I might go to heaven…if I didn’t make God unhappy with me.
I had been raised going to Sunday School and then church, and had the usual teachings and stories of the Bible, but I never really fully understood what Jesus dying on the cross meant to me personally. Yes, He died for sinners but I didn’t know that as soon as I personally and consciously accepted that fact, I was heaven bound. I learned that I was still responsible for my actions whatever they may be, and that if a person did something that they knew God would not approve of, they might have consequences here on Earth but as far as He was concerned I was forgiven. I learned too, that my faith was a relationship between Him and I, and I was accountable to Him but that He was there with open arms to say everything was okay and I was forgiven.
I think one of the first time my eyes were opened a bit, was when I was going to work early one Sunday morning, and it was a cold and blustery day. I saw a Salvation Army gentleman getting out of a car and crossing the street in front of me. There was no buses that early and he certainly seemed to be wanting to go in the direction that I was going. I hesitated to offer a ride because normally I never would to a stranger, but because of the weather etc. I did. He was going a bit further than I was but I said I would drop him off as it was only a matter of a few minutes out of my way.
In the short time he was in my car, he asked me whether or not I was going to heaven. I thought to myself, “boy is he bold and forthright”. But you know I answered him as I didn’t want to be rude, and I said that I hoped I was. He informed me that I could know for sure and he told me to read a scripture in the book of ‘John’, in my bible, and that he would pray for me. I told him I would, and when I went home that night I couldn’t forget my promise and read the scripture he advised me to.
I think from that moment on, I was really interested in learning more about the Bible and knowing God. That was the beginning my search to know whatever I could and my faith grew.
Somehow though when I think of those close to me, I can’t be as bold or forthcoming as that man was with me. When my children were young I tried as well as I could, to teach them the truth in little ways every day, as well as when we went to church on Sundays. And I saw their faith and understanding grow and felt sure that they understood what Jesus means to our faith as Christians.
I don’t ever mean to say that we need to have a good attendance at church every Sunday to be a Christian, and so when my grandchildren did not go each and every week, I knew that what they were told about God and of course Jesus were what was important. And when Christmas and Easter came it wasn’t all about presents and the Easter Bunny, but the birth of God’s son and the death of God’s son.
As our loved ones grow older and some go through their teenage years and the generational differences in their lives right now, it is harder to decide I find how to approach them about Salvation and a faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t want them to ‘tune me out’. They do expect at times I will raise issues of God, but I hold back from ‘preaching’ at them. And that’s where my prayers come in. Because I believe if I pray for those I love, the Holy Spirit will do the job that is not intended for me to do in each one of them. God says in His word, that if we pray then “Thy and thy household will be saved”.
I believe Him and so while faith has to be evident in me, I will pray and leave the job of salvation to the Holy Spirit. I think that’s what I understand and that’s what I shall do, until I feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to speak.