Monday, March 24, 2014

Embarrassed to share faith?

This time a fellow called AC writes Billy Graham with a question that doesn't really make sense at all. And Graham's answer? Equally as clueless...
Dear Rev. Graham: Why is it so hard for me to talk to those in own my family about my faith? Jesus is very important to me, but I just can’t seem to say anything to them about him. Do others have this problem, in your experience? -- A.C.
Sure, plenty of people have that problem. But they usually aren't Christians...
Rev. Graham: Yes, unfortunately this is a common problem, although it shouldn’t be. After all, if we truly love those in our family we should want what’s best for them -- and what could be better than for them to learn that God loves them and Christ died for them? Paul’s young friend Timothy apparently came to faith because of the witness of his grandmother and mother (see 2 Timothy 1:5).

Why are we embarrassed to talk about our faith to those who are closest to us? One reason may be because we’re afraid they’ll reject it -- and therefore they’ll reject us. It’s easier (we reason) just to keep quiet, and hope they’ll see that our lives are different because of Jesus. But why should we worry about their reaction? If we’ve prayed for them and trusted God to guide us, we can leave the results in his hands.

But sometimes we’re afraid to talk to those who are closest to us because we know we aren’t very good examples of what it means to be a Christian. We get irritable or impatient or moody or angry, although we know we shouldn’t be that way -- not if we’re following Jesus. We have forgotten Jesus’ words: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).Pray for your family, that they may realize their need of Christ.
Pray for yourself also, that God will help you be a witness to them of his love and grace -- both by the way you live and the words you speak.
 There's no doubt that some people are afraid to share their religious status with friends or family. They are afraid of rejection... being turned away from by those that they care for. But in my experience, it's hardly ever Christians with that worry. In the United States, 78.4% of Americans are Christian. Because of this it is usually assumed that everyone you meet, and those in your family are Christian as well. For this reason, I feel that AC is stressing about a problem that doesn't really exist for them.

But what if you aren't a Christian? I've heard the accounts from fellow non-believers that have had their families turn of them, and even disowned them for simply telling them that they don't believe. There are far too many cases of atheists being thrown out of their parent's house for simply not believing in the same god as their parents. I've heard of friends that went from very close, to not friends anymore at all simply because of the truth that they no longer believed in Christ being aired.
Heck, I've even heard a case or two of people being fired from their job due to non-belief. All this considered, I can understand the apprehension an atheist may have about sharing that they don't believe or no longer believe.

That said, there are some Christian groups that are quite exclusionary. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons have a history requiring the same type of disassociation that atheists sometimes suffer. If you are a Witness or Mormon and your child decides to leave the church (be it for a different Christian sect, different religion or to atheism), the typical response is that they are supposed to furthermore cut off all ties with the individual. Could you even imagine the reaction from a deeply devout Christian learning that their child was now a Muslim? I wager such a situation wouldn't end in familiar harmony. Yet, if I was a father, and my child told me that they were a Pagan, or believer in some other religion, I wouldn't turn away from them. It would be their choice, and since I loved them, I'd respect their choice.

So why is it that coming out as atheist can be so risky? In my case, I was lucky. My family and those around me were understanding and accepting. But many others aren't so lucky. And Christians... Please stop pretending that you are horribly persecuted. Because, admit it or not you receive far more favorable treatment in this country than any other religious group.

-Brain Hulk

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