In our Home Fellowship Group on Sunday, we talked about which kinds of people it is most difficult to share the gospel with. While there was no consensus, a number of us felt that family members and close friends are the hardest.
Why it is that sharing the gospel with a stranger can be so much easier than sharing it with a loved one? It comes down to the fear of rejection, which is simply one manifestation of pride. What do we care if a strangers rejects us? We don’t even know them. There is no sense of loss. But if a family member or close friend rejects us because we share the truth of the gospel, that is different. It hurts. We don’t want to lose them, and conveying the stark demands of the gospel are offensive to those who are dead in their sins. That loved one will hear the demands of Christ as words of personal attack from us and their rejection of Him will be taken as a rejection of us.
But we have to decide if we love our family’s acceptance of us more than we love Christ. Jesus told us to anticipate relationships being strained or broken because of His call on us. He was very upfront about this. It was not His intention to make us popular. Remember His words:
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matt 10:32-37).
If we love Christ we will share the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ with those we love, no matter how they might react. Our desire to please Him should trump our desire to please them. If it doesn't, we are not worthy of Him.
In addition to that, we need to realize that if we truly love these people we will be willing to suffer the loss of a relationship in exchange for the possibility of their being saved from eternal damnation. It’s sobering truth - our reluctance to share the gospel with our loved ones is not based on love for them, but rather on love for ourselves and disdain for the personal discomfort that would come with any rejection. If we really believe that the gospel saves and if we really love these people, we will share it with them. Choosing our own personal comfort and acceptance via the path of least offense will always be packaged with a passive resignation to their eternal demise. My silence is my confession that I am okay with their destruction.
So who is it in your life? Who is it in your family or circle of friends who needs the gospel, but you have resisted sharing it with them for fear of turning them off, offending them, or completely losing the relationship? There is a day set in the future for every one of us when it will be too late (Heb 9:27). Let’s love Christ enough to make Him known and to trust Him for the grace to endure whatever consequences may come. Aren’t you glad the fear of rejection didn’t keep quiet the one who shared the gospel with you?