Growing up I always heard the same thing. ‘Don’t be so heavenly minded with no earthly good.’ Now I didn’t hear this phrase in school or church, but in my own home. Was there some type of fear that I would become a ‘holier than thou’ Christian?
I could never understand what was meant when I heard it. With all honesty, I still don’t understand what it means. But I’m reminded of Colossians 3:1-4 because of it. We are to be setting our minds on things above, which is Christ, and not on earthly things, which is anything opposite of Christ. Now when we do set our minds on Him, earthly good does come from it. Earthly good like helping those in need, the homeless, orphans, by showing the love of Christ. So I guess that this phrase is used in error when applied to believers.
I grew up in the church, and when I got older and more serious about my faith, my mother and I started to have some issues with the decisions I was making. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, we seem to have conflict when it came to doctrine. She couldn’t understand why I would spend my summers teaching the Gospel and serving, instead of getting an internship or a more beneficial job. We just didn’t see eye to eye with certain things. Which can be understandable.
Now, I’m not an expert on how to deal with unbelieving parents, but I do have an understanding of where many come from. There are several things that must be kept in mind when dealing with unbelieving parents.
Make it a habit to communicate to them:
Grace is understood as getting what you don’t deserve. Unbelieving parents may not understand your new found faith in Christ. They may persecute you or even make fun of you. But the best thing to do is show grace. God shows us grace and forgiveness, and we as Christians are called to show it to others as well. Ephesians 4:1-3:
‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’
They are still your parents, saved or not, scripture talks about obeying, honoring and respecting them. Ephesians 6:1-3 We do what they ask us to do. Now if your parents are asking you to do something against what you believe, that is another story. You respectfully let them know that it goes against what you believe. In a perfect world, they would be proud that you have integrity and cannot be easily moved, but that may not always be the case. Show them that you are taking your faith seriously by following Christ’s example.
This can be hard for many. You may have been trying to share the Gospel with your parents, and they may not be as receptive as you’d like. Things take time. You have had time to grow. They need time to grow as well…don’t force the gospel on them, etc. Don’t be quick to get angry with them if they don’t agree with you. In everything, show patience.
4 ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
The greatest thing we are called to do is love. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. Love when someone disagrees with you. Love when someone persecutes and mocks you. Love can sometimes be a difficult thing to do. But we understand that love covers over a multitude of sins. Love your unbelieving parents when they may seem unlovable. At one point, you perceived yourself as unlovable, until you were captivated by the love of Christ.
Some of our best battles are done on our knees. Praying for our parents and their salvation is key. Sometimes it’s difficult to get through to them. They won’t listen. Or they don’t agree with you. The best thing to do is pray. The Lord hears your cry. Never give up on prayer. If they won’t listen or even treat you differently, your prayers for them should change.
Pray that your parents hearts are receptive to hear what you have to say. Pray that the Lord shows you ways that He can be seen more clearly for them. Pray that your actions and your life point not to you, but solely to Christ. We all know that sometimes, our actions speak louder than words.
As we mature and grow in our faith, people, even our own parents, will question our faith and the decisions we make. It’s how we deal with our unbelieving parents that is key. Some parents may not have the faith it takes to believe while others aren’t fully aware of the gospel. We must persevere through, and continue to show grace, patience, exhibit love and respect and petition to the Lord the things which are weighed heavily upon our hearts.