What Do I Do When I Believe Differently To My Family?

By Fin Sheridan

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15

That verse is incredibly popular in Christian households. We hang it on fridges, mount it on trendy wooden boards, put it up in artwork of varying tastes. My parents didn’t display it but it was quoted often. It comes from a verse in Joshua when Joshua and his family take a stand for God, in the midst of opposition.

It’s only a part of the verse though. The first part goes like this: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”. And that’s the crux isn’t it? We have to choose who we serve. Families are made up of individuals with their own wills, their own desires. What happens when someone in the family finds it “undesirable to serve the Lord”? Sometimes children don’t choose the faith of their parents. Sometimes parents don’t have the same belief as the children. Sometimes everyone is a Christian but we all believe different things about God and church and how we work out our faith, day to day.

How we respond to one another can vary depending on who you are. If you’re a parent and your 15 year old doesn’t want to go to church anymore then you have to navigate that – and it’s not simple. If you’re a 20 year old and you’re the only Christian in your family, then it can feel lonely at times. If you all go to different churches, with different expressions, then sometimes tensions can arise when you talk about faith.

As we put on love, we create a “bond of perfect unity”

In Colossians 3, Paul writes about “putting on the new self”. He’s writing to encourage us how we should behave as men and women who are a part of God’s kingdom, as new creations. In verse 12, he says:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful.

This is really relevant to how we disagree with those we’re related to. Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Forgiveness. Love. When we “clothe ourselves” in these things, when we wear them into every discussion, situation and circumstance then we can be assured of something – the peace of Christ will rule. Family differences can be such vicious affairs – clothing ourselves in these things will create atmospheres and environments where peace and understanding can flow.

In fact, Paul goes even further. He says that as we put on love, that we create a “bond of perfect unity”. This doesn’t mean we agree with one another all the time, or that a situation isn’t hard to navigate. But, when resolve to cover ourselves with love and to demonstrate our love for the other, unity can exist – even in the midst of differences.

If that resonates with you, then we’d love to pray with you. Our prayer centre is open for your calls, 8am-7pm, Monday-Friday. Why not call us on 0300 561 0700?

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