There are many reasons to feel out of place at family gatherings. Maybe your grandma Susan is constantly reminding you that you’re looking too skinny these days, while your grandpa Ron can’t hear a word you say. You’re uncle Fred has such a strange sense of humor that you’re never quite sure if he’s joking or not. Your aunt Mindy’s new boyfriend reeks of cigarette smoke and alcohol. Your older cousin Christine likes to brag about her awesome boyfriend, awesome convertible, and overall awesome life. Perhaps the real reason you feel out of place is because you sometimes feel like the only Christian in your family. Well, has it ever occurred to you that this might be a good thing? (Just keep reading…I’ll explain, I promise)
It’s no secret that we live in a world full of sin. Our culture is immersed in it and we see it every day. However, it’s important to remember that with sin often comes spiritual ignorance. Many people simply don’t know God’s Word. It’s our job to make sure others know what the Bible says. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:19-20). We are called to spread God’s word to everyone. Guess what? This even includes the people we sometimes tend to overlook: our physical family.
I know it’s difficult to talk to your family about Christ. It takes courage and persistence. Your family members have known you your whole life, and therefore know all your faults. They know what you were like before you became a Christian and they are the first to notice when you slip up. It’s important that we try to talk with our families about Christ, but it’s equally important that we be a good example of a Christian for them to see. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). If they don’t see us living like Christ, where else will they see it? They sure won’t see it in this world full of sin.
Paul was someone who was so firm in his Jewish beliefs that he even persecuted Christians because he felt they were blasphemous to the scriptures. When he became a Christian and left Judaism behind, I’d imagine his family was appalled at his decision. They may have even turned their backs on him. Talk about being the only Christian in his family. If this discouraged him, he sure didn’t show it. When Paul was imprisoned and gave his appeal to King Agrippa, he was so determined to spread God’s word that he said, “I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am-except for these chains” (Acts 26:29).
Paul wanted everyone he met to become a Christian, with the hope of eternal life. Jesus lived His life on Earth as an example for all to follow. Paul’s faith in God was so strong that he lived his life as an example for others to follow, even until his death. Paul encouraged others to “be imitators of [him], as [he is] of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So if we are imitating Paul, who imitated Christ, hopefully others are seeing that and begin to imitate us.
Maybe God gave you the family you have because He knew you’d be a good example to them. Maybe he gave you the family you have to give you an opportunity to serve him. Those are people you can have a direct effect on. (This is where being the only Christian in your family could be a good thing)
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Be a light in a world full of darkness. The next time you are feeling out of place with your family (or even friends), think about the effect you could have on their lives. Maybe you could help lead them to Christ. Make it a point to be that Christ-like example, to your physical family, spiritual family, and to the rest of the world.