Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Atheist at the holiday

Sometimes families can handle finding out their child no longer believes. Mine is one of those, but not all have it so well...
DEAR REV. GRAHAM: Our son is coming home from college this Christmas, and we're kind of dreading it. He's let us know he no longer believes in God and has no intention of going to church with us. We don't want to spend the holidays arguing, but how should we react?

-- K.W.K.
There's one very simple solution to this. Don't make a big deal out of it, or try to force him to go to church. Don't try to force religion on him and there won't be a problem. Simple! 
DEAR K.W.K.: I suspect you're already on the right track; spending the holidays arguing not only would create conflict and tension, but it probably wouldn't solve anything. The Bible wisely says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).
Instead, ask God to help you be an example to your son of Christ's love and concern. I think, for example, of Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples, who loudly claimed he'd never turn his back on Jesus, and then denied Him three times. But how did the other disciples treat Peter? They could have refused to have anything more to do with him, or they might have argued with him over what he'd done. Instead, they loved him and made him part of their group after Jesus' death, and in time Jesus appeared to Peter and forgave him for his unbelief. (You can read about this in John 21.)
Wow! Is Billy actually telling this family to not make a big deal about this? Could this actually be a letter that yields good advice?
Does this mean you should just ignore your son's opinions or act as if they aren't important to you? No, of course not. But ask God to help you be good listeners and assure him of your love, while also expressing concern that he not be misled by the opinions of others.
You may not be able to answer all of his questions, but don't let that worry you. Instead, pray for him and urge him to look at Christ as He is found in the Gospels. Unbelief fades in the light of Christ.
Guess not... So he does want the family to press the religious issue with their son. So much for not instigating familiar conflict during the holiday... What is so hard about letting people believe what the believe (or in this case, don't believe)?


-Brain Hulk

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