This week, someone asked "What encouragement would you give to someone who is the only believer in their family?" Having grown up in a Christian home my whole life, I knew I wasn't the right person to answer this. Here is my boyfriend's take on the topic, as someone who has walked this road.
Before I give you my thoughts I want to encourage you with some scripture. Jesus Christ talked about this very issue and faced this issue. Read the following scriptures:
These words from Jesus are saddening because even the Savior of the world was mocked and doubted in his own hometown among his own relatives and friends. So be encouraged that you are not the only one dealing with this issue and there are so many answers in scripture that could encourage you. I will throw those in and bear with me on my long windedness because I am a little passionate about this topic.
I became a believer at the age of 12. I had “Christian” family members, but I would soon learn that they were the farthest from it. When I first became a true Christ follower I was obsessed and so madly in love with the God that came to earth to take my place in death and made a way for me to be with Him for eternity because He loved me so much and did not want to spend forever without me. I would not shut up about Christ and I did all the things that new believers do. Things like wear clothes that had scripture or Christ centered comments, started bible studies in the middle of the quad area during lunch at school, and attended every single youth group in town that believed in Jesus. It was fun and I grew a lot from it. One of the first real moments of discouragement for me was when my family took a distaste to my beliefs.
My family was annoyed with me and they constantly told me to “tone it down”, “keep it to yourself”, “you’re too serious about it” and so on. The worst one that I got was when I was hanging out with my cousins. I was super close with them and we were all hanging out on a tree swing and they began to ask me about why I am a Christian and so I told them the basics of how Jesus died for us. Their response was, “I liked you better before you were a Christian”. Word for word. I will always remember that because before I was a Christian, I was a very mean and unloving person that did and said terrible things to MY FAMILY. But somehow they wanted the old me.
Please be encouraged with this as the Holy Spirit has encouraged me with this type of personality and with this desire. I will follow Christ even if it means that I am the only one. We are called to love Christ even if it means we are the only ones. The best encourager is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ONLY person that it truly matters that you have a relationship with. If you know Jesus, then you know God. If you know God, then you know you are on your way to Heaven with Him.
Being the only believer in your house will be hard and discouraging at times because of the way that you are treated. Don’t get in the mindset of “I have to save my family from Hell”. YOU love your family and serve your family and let Jesus do the saving. Share the Gospel with your family when the Holy Spirit sets up a meeting for you to introduce Him to them. Don’t try dragging your family members to Jesus. Jesus did not drag, force, or trick anyone into loving Him. He would simply say, “follow Me”. Some people didn’t (Matthew 19:16-22) and some people did (Matthew 4:18-22)! If someone did not follow Jesus, then He kept on going. I struggled for a long time feeling like it was my responsibility to get my family “Saved”. It is the Holy Spirit that does the work. You just LOVE them. You SERVE them. To the point of them being annoyed because you love and and serve so well. And obviously do what God is telling you to do.
One last thing. GET PLUGGED IN. Make sure you surround yourself with encouraging and loving Christians that want to serve Jesus and walk this walk with you. You will get burnt out if you try to do it alone. Fellowship is important. Let people pray over you and pray with you about your family. After 12 years of being a believer my family still does not go to church with me. BUT they expect me to be the Jesus Freak in the family. They expect that I pray before holiday dinners. Because I have that reputation. Build the reputation. And if you have a family member (typically it is a grandparent) that loves Jesus, hang out with them and learn from them.