“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).” These are some of my favorite words in the Bible. They remind me that my life should be characterized by joy, prayer, and thankfulness to my God. However, at times I find myself lacking in joy when I consider the fact that so many people I love do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I am not alone in this struggle. Many followers of Christ find themselves at a loss when they see their loved ones living a life in rebellion against God. What can be done?
The first thing we must remember is God can always be trusted; we must never think He is not in control. As Abraham is interceding for the city of Sodom before its destruction, he asks the question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just/right (Genesis 18:25)?” The answer is “yes”. God always does what is good and just, therefore we must trust in Him at all times, even in the most difficult of situations.
This is not a “blind faith” that I am insisting on. Rather, as we read the Bible and see God’s faithfulness in the past, we should be certain that God will remain faithful in the future. Again, this is not wishful thinking, but based on the very nature of God. Paul insures Titus that God’s call of salvation, though in eternity past, will most certainly come to fruition because of the fact that God cannot lie (cf. Titus 1:2). The apostle’s evidence for his statement is the foundational truth about God Himself. Therefore, we must continue to lean on God, trust Him in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations, and know that He is truly “working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).”
Secondly, God cares about our lost loved ones more than we do. This may be hard for us to believe at times. However, He is their Creator, He is their God, He provides for them daily, even as they continue to turn their backs and walk away from Him. Loving their sin more than God, people continue to suppress the truth of Him and His power in their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18) However, while this is going on, God still is caring and patient. (Matthew 5:45) “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23) It is the desire of God that our loved ones repent and turn to Him. He desires they would “be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)
Finally, we must heed the call we have been given to be ambassadors of Christ. We are to be the vessel God uses to implore the world to be reconciled to Himself. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Do we intentionally share the truth of Christ and His gospel message with our lost loved ones? Do we look for opportunities to bring up spiritual conversations? Do we offer to pray for our lost loved ones? Do we share how God has been working in our own lives? If not, I beseech you dear Christian, pray for the boldness you need to lovingly be a witness of God’s grace. We must put legs to our prayers and not give up proclaiming the gospel. Put on the “beautiful feet” of one who brings the good news of Christ and take that news to your loved ones while there is still time. (Romans 10:15)
“But you don’t understand, my loved one is so far from God, I don’t think they will ever come to know him. They outright hate God and mock God.” Yes, I do get it. In fact, at one point in my life, I was that person. I thought I was too smart, too sophisticated to believe in God. Belief in God, I asserted, is merely an intellectual crutch for those who just can’t cope. Yet, when I least expected it, God, in His mercy and grace, changed me from the inside out. However, I am not some special case, God has done and continues to do this in people all around the world.
Be encouraged, then, as you read about the Christian hater Saul and how Jesus Christ completely changed everything about him (Acts 9). Be encouraged as you read about how God can humble even the most stubborn hearts, as He did in the life of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:28-37). Be encouraged as you hear to the testimony of God’s holy, inspired word: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save (Isaiah 59:1)” and “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).”
The well-known British preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” May this be our cry as we pray and speak to those who are outside of Christ. All the while rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks to our great God and King because we know He will do what is right. Finally, don’t lose heart, don’t give up hope, no matter how far they may be from God, because God is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).”
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ