After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus commissioned the disciples for an important job.
“‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20). Coupled with this commission is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1–6.) Also, that eternal life is a gift and heaven is a sure destiny. Can it get any better than that? So, why do some people, especially those closest to us sometimes resist believing?
Jesus experienced rejection. “For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5). People of His own town of Nazareth were astonished by His teachings. But some were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him. Jesus responded by saying that a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family. (See Matthew 13: 53–58.) Even in His adopted hometown of Capernaum, many heard and rejected His teachings. How is that possible when the speaker is the Savior Himself? What Jesus and many of us experience illustrates the old adage that “familiarity breeds contempt.” So we shouldn’t be too surprised that our witness is not gladly accepted by those close to us. Scripture would remind us that individuals can’t get saved unless God gives them to Jesus. (See John 6: 59–65.) You can preach and plead all you want, but it’s the Lord who draws people to Himself for salvation (John 6:44).
Be confident that the Lord will answer in His time and His way.
So get rid of the idea that you alone are responsible for the salvation of those close to you. Here’s a shocker: Jesus said He came to bring all kinds of division in family relationships (Matthew 10:34–39). Imagine that, the gospel message causes dissension, even in close family units. It can be severe, like an Islamist who accepts Jesus is usually is targeted for death. In some Jewish homes, funeral services are held for family members who accept Jesus as Messiah. In most cases it’s rejection and ridicule. It’s all to be expected. Here is comfort: We are not alone. All who knew the Lord and sought to witness and live godly have been persecuted. “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (James 5:10). So we are not to be discouraged. We are just God’s spokesmen in word and in lifestyle to His love and mercy. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9), and “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
Experience is a great teacher. Here are some general considerations in witnessing. Be normal. If you come on preachy, critical or negative that will be a turn off. What usually happens is that those who are close to you will feel threatened and get defensive, thinking that you think you know more than they. Remember your position in the family unit. Stay involved. If you avoid contact, you and your faith would appear cultic. Seek to live a consistent Christian life. That will speak volumes and will open doors. Believe and practice fervent prayer. Sometimes you just have to back off. Be confident that the Lord will answer in His time and His way. Be patient. Unique opportunities will open, just be ready. The Bible states, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient” (2 Timothy 2:24). Remember that it’s God’s desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9). So be positive and trust in the Lord. What the Lord requires is obedience, leaving the results in His hands. Persevere, one step at a time. Sharing your faith with friends and family can be scary but remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).