CAN WE WITNESS “TOO MUCH” TO FAMILY MEMBERS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Once, a concerned grace believer, the wife of a grace-believing man, told me how she and her husband were never invited to most family functions. She explained that their family members would joke, “Uh oh, here comes [the man’s name], and all he is going to talk to us about is God and the Bible.” The family had evidently grown tired of his “sermons” and they just decided not to invite him and his wife to their get-togethers altogether. Furthermore, she told me that she would sometimes urge him not speak to them so much about the Bible. This way, they could spend more time with their families without all the estrangement and opposition. I shared some verses with her to better understand and better address their dilemma. There are many grace people who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, similar shunning. It would greatly help you, our readers, if we took an opportunity to provide counsel in that regard.
Unfortunately, there is very little moderation concerning Christian witnessing. On one extreme, there are Christians who do not witness at all. They so dread approaching people about the Bible. In fact, they do not know what to say if the occasion ever arose to speak up anyway. They just stay quiet, assuming it is their pastor’s job to share the Gospel. On the other extreme, there are Christians who force the Gospel down lost people’s throats. They talk excessively about the Gospel/Bible when their audience has exhibited great opposition to, or no interest in, what is being said. Dear friends, there must be a balance. We should not be ashamed to speak of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Yet, we must also understand free will and not waste our time with unconcerned people.
Friends, I must be completely honest with you. I will be honest in love. There comes a point in time when we must say nothing about the Bible to certain individuals. I know firsthand that this is especially tricky regarding family members and close friends. These people are very dear to us, but the Bible and Jesus Christ are also very dear to us, and we do not want to disrespect either party. We need to be particularly careful here. This cannot be stressed enough. I think it best to tell you about how I handle my ministry when it comes to family and friends, and you can use that counsel and your own judgment to form your reactions to your family and friends.
Permit me to tell you about my own dealings with family members and close friends. A good majority of them have heard something from me about the Bible. I have spent hours talking with some of them about Scripture. These all responded with varying degrees of interest. With others, I have only shared snippets of Bible concepts and a few basic verses. These precious people showed no interest in light Bible discussion and those few verses, so I do not mention the Bible in their presence anymore. I will not waste my breath, especially about deeper spiritual things. They have reached the point where I will not utter one precious word of God unless they ask me. They know where to come if they need help with understanding the Bible. I can do nothing more.
Let me tell you a little bit about how I dealt (and still deal) with high school and college classmates (some of whom are still my friends). Once, I had an online “religious” discussion with a high school classmate whom I had known for many years. As our conversation progressed, he began to get increasingly distant, so I ended it. Some time later, another classmate explained to me how he had told her, “Shawn tried to force his religion on me.” In actuality, if I were “forcing” my “religion” on him, why did he not leave the conversation sooner? That was almost 10 years ago. I have not spoken to him since. He avoids me every time he sees me in public and I never go out of my way to chase him down and greet him. If he wants to act like that, that is his prerogative. I have better things to do with my time than hunt down people. There are plenty more people I can interact with who are more worthy of my company.
Years ago, on a field trip, a college classmate who knew my stand on spiritual matters, asked me without me ever saying a word to him, “Is [a certain behavior] a sin?” That completely startled me because he seemed to be such a Bible skeptic or “religious person turned agnostic!” He had never asked me anything like that before, and has not asked me anything about the Bible since. Still, I certainly took advantage of that inquiry and answered him with Bible verses. Never once did I force anything on this man, and he knew exactly where to come if he sought Bible understanding. He still sees my posts on Facebook, and while I have not heard from him in a few years, my door is always open for him to enter and ask again!
A couple hundred of my high school and college classmates are friends with me on Facebook. They have been seeing thousands of my Bible posts for several years now—nine years, actually. The door is open to all of them, and I hear from a few on occasion! Some have been receptive to Scripture while others have been openly against. There are some who are saved unto eternal life, but very antagonistic to dispensational Bible study. Others are still lost and going to hell, content in their state. I have spoken with them in person in the past, and even online now that we have moved apart physically, but unless I hear from them, I do not engage in spiritual discussions with them. Some of these individuals have scientific backgrounds such as myself, and I have learned that intellectualism has gripped and polluted their minds. They know where I stand and I know where they stand. We get along by discussing things that we agree on. I never set aside Jesus Christ for anybody, but I will force Jesus Christ on nobody!
We have a dear Christian sister in the ministry whose late husband was a Bible teacher. She has passed on his wisdom to me, and I would be happy to pass it on to you now. This man, having been delivered Evolutionary Theory and a religious cult, he loved to talk to others about the Bible, especially creation science. While I was not present, I am sure that he practically drove some people “up the wall” with his Bible-verse quoting. One day, he came to realize that this was not ideal. So, he zipped his lips and said nothing about the Bible to anyone. It was not long after that that a man came along to ask him a Bible question. And, he began to share the Bible with this inquisitive man. I have adopted this late brother’s method. Once I have introduced the Bible to family and friends, and they did not show interest, I say nothing now unless they ask. They cannot accuse me of forcing anything, twisting their arms, making them angry with God’s Word, and so on.
We read a helpful verse in Proverbs chapter 22: “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease” (verse 10). Those in your family who overtly mock the Bible, who refuse to hear anything about it, it is best to stay silent about Scripture in their presence. You will save yourself arguing and fighting, I can assure you. Or, Proverbs 15:2: “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” The wise and mature Christian will know when it is appropriate to say something to someone about the Bible, and when it is best to say nothing about the Bible. Remember, Proverbs 29:1: “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The more you share the Bible with someone who refuses to hear it, the harder he or she will get inside and the more resistant he or she will become (remember Pharaoh and Moses?). Please do not exhaust your connections with them unless it is about a Bible topic of prime importance (especially salvation and the Gospel of Grace). Finally, Proverbs 15:10: “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.” There are people who do not want to hear the truth because they hate the truth and the ways of God. You need to let them stay with what they want to have—error and spiritual destruction! That is a harsh reality but the Bible says it and we obey it.
WHEN TO SAY AND WHEN QUIET TO STAY
Religious matters are very personal and there are great emotional attachments to personages, books, and ideas. If you have not already learned this firsthand, I will tell you right now. When you talk about Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as the only way to heaven, you will get some people very angry. To say that their relatives died and went to hell, that “Mama and Daddy, Grandpa and Grandma, were wrong in their works-religion,” that is extremely disturbing to hear even though it is true.
When you talk about the King James Bible as the perfect and authoritative Bible version for English-speaking people, you will get some prideful rebuttals and hear and read some vicious remarks. “Oh, how could Pastor/Doctor So-and-So have been so wrong in recommending this Bible if it really is fallible and worthless?”
When you talk about Paul’s special ministry to us Gentiles, you are likely to get kicked out of your local church assembly and maybe even your family gatherings. “We follow Jesus not Paul. You make Paul out to be God!” You will be cursed out, yelled at, ridiculed for “believing and teaching heresy,” slandered for being a “cult member,” and so on. It is going to be especially painful when such opposition comes from your own family members and close friends. Brother or sister, you must prepare yourself for that opposition, and not get discouraged. I tell you this now so that you are not startled when it occurs. Keep on! Never give up!
Christian friend, you should attempt to reach every family member and every close friend at least once with the Gospel of Grace, the King James Bible, and Paul’s special ministry. (Not all of these topics at once, of course, but preferably in this order.) After you have introduced the Gospel and that individual rejects it, you need not proceed with King James Bible authority and Paul’s ministry. Unless the person is saved, you getting into the deeper things of God will quickly become futile. If ever that person resumes the conversation with you, try to start again with the Gospel of Grace and proceed to the King James Bible and Paul’s special ministry. If that person does not ask you, or does not mention these topics first, stay quiet! It may be days, weeks, months, years, or even decades that you have to stay silent about the Bible with them. However, please do it for their sakes. You can sense when they want to hear something from you and when they just want to argue with you. Again, do not exhaust your connections with them by hounding them with the Bible. Additionally, do not get into the deep things of the Bible if they are resistant to simple verses.
As time goes by, you are going to learn which family members want to hear and believe the Gospel of Grace. While they may receive that information, they are not necessarily going to receive the King James Bible and Paul’s special ministry. In time, you will have to avoid those topics when visiting with these Christian relatives. (Like I said, this is spoken from experience.)
POSSIBLE TOPICS AS ALTERNATIVES TO GOD AND THE BIBLE
So, what topics to discuss when dealing with lost relatives who have already told you they are not interested in the Bible? Talk about the weather. Talk about your job. Talk about how your day is going. Talk about a book you are reading or a quality television program you watched recently. Talk about your spouse and your children (if applicable). Ask them how they have been, ask them about their job, ask them what they have been doing lately, ask them about their spouse or their children (if applicable), et cetera. I always mention documentaries to people, or new electronic gadgets that I have purchased or read about. Because I am a scientist, I enjoy telling people about science, especially geology and astronomy, and also geography. Sometimes, I will mention news items to people. I tell them what I have been up to, what my plans or goals are, what books I have read in the past few days, and so on.
SOME FINAL WORDS
Yes, friend, we can witness “too much” to family members. When we see how Jesus Christ and His followers shared God’s Word with others, there came a point where they stopped talking to certain individuals. We need to mindful of reaching that limit. Try to reach as many loved ones with God’s Word as you can, but there will come a point when the vast majority will begin to “drift” from you. You will notice it, especially if you are a new Christian having just had a drastic life transformation. When you observe someone growing antagonistic against God’s Word, you have reached your limit, and it is time to move on! On future occasions with them, you need not say anything else about Scripture unless they say something first. For more advice on this topic, please see our related studies linked below.
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?