For those who say that religion is a crutch, we say that they have not tried to live the Christian life. Many unbelievers hold to the perspective that Christianity is just singing, preaching, and praying. These unbelievers have not been to a Christian’s home when the latter’s child lays dying or when the Christian’s other family members decide to walk away from the faith and live their own lives.
Holding on to one’s faith is not easy in these circumstances. Nor is it easy when there are bills to pay yet unemployment rules the household. Christianity is not easy. When we were attending our undergrad college, we knew three people who showed that Christianity is not easy. One was a very good friend; the second was two years ahead of us and eventually went to the mission field; and, the third was a beloved music professor.
While we were attending these schools there was no real sign as to their eventual preferences. But it wasn’t long after college that these three all took the same path in life. We do not remember exactly when they made their declarations but it was news when they did. All three at one point in their lives declared that they were homosexual.
The missionary was a son of a prominent pastor in the denomination, the music professor a son of a popular district superintendent and our close friend was like us- a nobody. It was not easy news to take. We do not know all the details of their lives and the only updates we have had, have only talked about the one who became a missionary. He lost his partner some years ago to death. We tried to contact our friend but he never responded to our inquiries.
But what does one do when their friends and loved ones take these different paths yet still call themselves Christian. We know of many people who have changed their minds about God’s view of sin, particularly homosexual sins, because they love their children. It is an understandable reaction but it is not the right one. Many parents have listened to the arguments of their children and have changed sides in favor of their children. Again this is not the right reaction.
What is the right reaction? It is one that makes Christianity as difficult as losing a child, a home, a job and on it goes. The right reaction to seeing one’s friends, loved ones, professors veer off the straight and narrow and enter the area of questionable but sinful behavior, is not anger, it is not a rejection of God and his ways. The right reaction is that we must continue to side with God. He is not wrong when he made his declarations of what is or isn’t sin. We must accept that fact.
Compromising on our beliefs is not the correct response either. Once we compromise we lose. We also stop correctly representing God and his word. This cannot be done. Standing with God when our friends and loved ones stray is not easy. It also makes living the Christian life difficult. We must endure the pain that comes when people we care about, make the decision to practice sin.
Jesus felt this pain. He spent 3 years training and living with Judas. He had followers who decided to depart from him when e said tough words.He knows how tough it is to live the life he has taught us to live. And it is not easy staying with God when all your friends decide to leave the faith and go their own way. Just about everyone we grew up with in church as a child and young adult left the church. They may have returned at some point in their adult lives but time has clouded that information. The point is, it is not easy to live the Christian life as you will lose friends, family members to sin.
You can’t force them to be Christian. The faith is voluntary, not mandatory. You are not allowed to judge or condemn them, that is God’s job. we can talk, plead and beg but that is demeaning after a while. Sometimes the only response is to pray for them, hoping God will get through their thick skulls and help them turn their lives around. That works.
But we can also implement Christ’s teaching in our interaction with them. We can feed them when they are hungry; help them find work when they lose a job; help them when they or their personal families have health problems and so much more. Doing unto them as we would like to be treated goes a long ways in helping turn their lives around and make the Christian life more meaningful. What a joyful occasion when a lost sheep returns to the fold. These events make living the Christian life a lot easier.
But again, we cannot leave our faith and join them. We cannot change our beliefs and make God say something he did not say. Jesus told us that he who loves father, mother, brother, son, daughter, etc. more than me is not worthy of me (paraphrased but we think you know the verse). When you alter your beliefs or change God’s declared views then you are loving your human family or friends more than Jesus.
Loving Jesus more than our family and friends does not mean we do not meet their physical needs or treat them like Jesus taught. It means that when they stray from the truth we do not follow them. We stand with God and his word. This makes living the Christian life very difficult. We have to make a choice between God, Jesus, and our human friends and family.
Christianity is not a crutch. It is a difficult life to live. But it is worth it if we stick with Jesus to the end and run the race as Paul taught. Evil uses our friends and family to destroy our faith. We cannot let him win that battle. We need to remain tough, strong and depend upon Jesus to carry us through those difficult times. We will be heartbroken but Jesus never said we would have it easy.
There are no surprises when it comes to the Christian faith. We cannot be shocked, traumatized or surprised when friends and family members opt out of living for Jesus. Jesus gave us a 2,000-year head start with his warnings about living the Christian life. Staying with Jesus over siding with friends and family is part of the cross Jesus told us to pick up when we decided to follow him.
We win if we stick with God. Only he has the keys to his home. Our straying friends and family members do not have the authority to get us eternal life. It is not an intelligent move to leave one’s faith for the unbelief of those you care about.
Be strong in God and do not let evil win.