New RelationshipsLuke 14:25-27Theme: Priorities.This week’s lessons remind us that we must surrender all to Jesus.
LessonDuring World War I one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended. The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give up improper friends. They would give him up. As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he met that he had become a Christian.
The soldier went home. Almost immediately – in fact, while he was still on the platform of the suburban station at the end of his return trip – he met a girl whom he had known socially. She was delighted to see him and asked how he was doing. He told her, “The greatest thing that could possibly happen to me has happened. I’ve taken the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.” The girl’s expression froze. She mumbled a few polite words and went on her way.
A short time later the new Christian met a young man whom he had known before going into the service. “It’s good to see you back,” he declared. “We’ll have some great parties now that you’ve returned.”
“I’ve just become a Christian,” the soldier said. Again it was a case of frozen smiles and a quick change of conversation.
After this the same circumstances were repeated with a young couple and with two more old friends. But by this time the word had gotten around, and soon some of his friends stopped seeing him. The same confession that had aligned him with Christ had separated him from those who did not want Jesus Christ as Savior. So it will be for you. Nothing will so keep the world at bay as a frank confession of Christ. It is the way to be his disciple.
But I think I hear you thinking, “That is all well and good: to be talking about breaking with old social acquaintances or other distant friends. But that is quite a different thing from breaking with one’s parents or, worse yet, one’s husband or wife. Those are relationships that cannot simply be done away with, and any strain along those lines is painful.” That is true. I offer this consolation.
First, it is often the case – indeed, it is generally the case – that God works in families and thus uses one who has become a Christian to draw his relations after him. It is remarkable how this happens. At first there may be great misunderstanding, even hostility. Parents especially tend to regard a child’s new faith as a rejection of them and their values. But a change often occurs. Hostility is replaced by curiosity and then by respect for the new set of convictions and way of life. Conversations follow, and before long the parent, brother, sister, or others turn to Jesus. I have been a pastor for many years, and I have noticed something interesting. A generation ago the church was filled with parents who were grieving over an errant son or daughter. The parents were believers, but the children had rejected Christianity and were living the world’s life. Today it is often the reverse. The children, often college students or young career people, have found Christ, and they are now concerned for their parents. Ihave noticed that through the witness of children many of these parents come to Christ.
How does God typically work in families?
ApplicationAre you willing to risk the loss of relationships for your faith? Or have you hidden your confession of Christ from certain people? Make a list of people to whom you have not been open about your relationship with Jesus. Ask God to give you an opportunity to share your convictions with each person on your list; then trust God with the outcome when you do.