What should you do when faith costs you friends or family?

Listen to this story

By Greg Gerber

You are excited and full of joy in a way that you’ve never experienced. You just made a decision to put your faith and hope into a relationship with Jesus. You are a Christ-follower, something you never expected to call yourself.

Your ideas of “religion” were wrong. You now understand there is much more to being a genuine Christian than you imagined – much more.

A weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You might not know all the answers you are seeking, but now you now know where the answers can be found. Your eyes have been opened in that you see the world in a totally different perspective.

Maybe you have been set free of an addiction, or a bad habit. You have been forgiven of the horrible things you have done, said and believed in the past.

You have hope for a better tomorrow and an eternity free of the things that seem to keep you from becoming the person you know you were created to be.

You have been restored physically, emotionally and spiritually. You are beside yourself with enthusiasm. You discovered there really is a purpose for your life.

You know one thing for sure – you want those people closest to you to enjoy the same joy and sense of freedom you now possess. You want them to meet the Jesus you know in your heart. Why? Because you know how that relationship can change their lives.

For you, heaven won’t be nearly the incredible experience you imagine it will be without your closest friends and family members by your side – the people on earth you love more than anyone else.

But, when you share your news with others and suggest that they have “religion” all wrong, they show indifference or outright anger. It’s like they popped your birthday balloon or smashed a treasured heirloom.

They tell you in unmistakable language not only that you are wrong, but that they want nothing to do with you or your faith. To them, you have just become another “holy roller” Jesus freak.

Soon, you find they aren’t returning your messages, they’ve unfriended you on social media, and they’re telling your mutual friends how weird you’ve become.

Your heart is broken. What can you do?

Romans 12:18 makes it clear that we aren’t to retaliate.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Remember, they don’t know what they don’t know. Jesus said the same thing in his dying words on the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Although Christianity is very clear in your mind and heart, they still have some misconceptions to overcome.

Overcoming unbelief

Many people who don’t share your enthusiasm are convinced that:

  • Religion is all about rules – Perhaps they grew up going to a church that put a great deal of emphasis on doing the right things, avoiding some foods or behaviors, and saying the right things. They prayed beautifully-written, holy-sounding prayers read from a book, rather than helpless pleas from their heart.
  • Religion is fake – Maybe every time they have ever been to a church the service requires reciting the same words in the same order over and over again. They have not seen God’s power at work.
  • Christians are phony – Some people think it is disingenuous to have strangers who don’t know their name shaking their hand and telling them how glad they are to see them.  Maybe they see people who party hearty on Saturday nights waiving their hands in the air and singing loudly on Sunday mornings.
  • God isn’t real – Perhaps they grew up being told that it was foolish or immature to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing creator who was watching over them.
  • God is an unhappy disciplinarian – They may have never experienced genuine grace and view God as being a strict authority figure just waiting for them to screw up so he can bring out the holy strap to punish them.
  • God isn’t real – Forgetting that God granted everyone free will to make their own decisions, they rationalize that if God was real, then why do bad things happen to good people?
  • God doesn’t care about them – Even if God is real, they may believe he doesn’t care about them personally. Many times, this stems from unanswered prayer. They found themselves in a hopeless situation and uttered a prayer to see if it would work. If the situation didn’t turn out as they had desired, they conclude God doesn’t care.
  • Church is all about money – They see ornate churches in poverty-stricken areas, or multi-millionaire celebrity pastors begging on TV. They are told to give, give again and give some more. They don’t see money as a heart issue in which God seeks to help us develop trust in him by tithing. They see giving as wasteful coercion.

There are dozens of reasons why people may react indifferently, smugly or even violently to any discussion of faith.

Yes, some immature Christians may encourage that reaction by passing judgement, telling them they will go to hell or insisting that they clean up their own acts before God would even want to have anything to do with them.

So, what can you do?

First, pray that God would soften their heart. Perhaps God will give you unique insight into a situation that impacted their lives in a negative way. Perhaps God needs to soften your heart, too. So pray for empathy.

Then watch your tongue and listen closely. When people don’t feel they will be judged by what they currently believe or what they have done in the past, they may be more open to a rational discussion of faith-based issues.

Next, look for open doors. Some day, your friend might make a comment that seems to invite discussion. Maybe it is related to something she saw on the news, or a situation he is personally experiencing. I know a number of people who stepped forward to ask if they could pray for me YEARS before I even considered becoming a Christian.

Finally, be transparent and willing to share your story. Admit your failures and struggles. Part of the problem is that people often see Christians as hypocrites who believe and say one thing, and do another.

One thing is certain, people can’t argue with your story. They can debate theology all day, but they can’t argue with your personal life story.

“I once felt this way or experienced this situation. Then I met Jesus. Today my life is different.”

People don’t need to be hit over the head with Scripture verses and sermons. They need the unconditional love you received from God in order to experience God’s forgiveness and grace themselves.

It is not up to you to change people. Only God can do that and only when they are ready to embrace that process with his help.

In the meantime, continue to be a source of light and hope for them. That will attract more attention than any moralizing mini-sermon who attempt to deliver.

However, losing friends may be an important step in your maturity as well. Perhaps God is signaling that a specific relationship is toxic and needs to end in order for you to move forward. Just keep the door open and the light on. You may be the only genuine Christian he or she ever meets.

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at editor@rvdailyreport.com.

Leave a Comment

  • Ronald Hiemann says:

    This is RV Daily Report and this subject has nothing to do with religion. Why do you insist on posting about this here? If you wish to share your religious views, you should do that somewhere else. Also, when you posted about religion a few weeks ago, I posted a comment, which you promptly deleted. Why? Because I disagreed with your views?

    • Greg Gerber says:

      I probably deleted it because it was a snarky comment that had nothing to do with the subject. We will continue to post one — as in ONE — faith-based story every week. Why? Because it is my site and it’s important to me, and many of my readers seem to enjoy or at least tolerate one — ONE — faith-based story a week. We did post 118 stories based on the recreation vehicle industry and lifestyle last week alone. In the past 30-days we have posted 519 RV-related stories and FOUR faith-based stories.

      When I was younger, I was also deeply offended whenever I encountered a faith-based message. So, trust me, I understand where you are coming from. To ensure that you don’t encounter any more faith-based stories on RV Daily Report, I adjusted your subscription so that you no longer receive the weekend editions.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

  • Ken says:

    Excellent article! I too am a Christian, and yes, it is difficult at times, but continuing to look forward, it truly is the way!

  • Randy says:

    Great Article Greg! We need more people to spead the word.

  • KellyR says:

    Greg, it is YOUR news letter, it does not belong to the people that read it. I will just bet that you are not the only Christian that likes to RV. Oh, I guess there are at least two of us. As in any other magazine, there are some articles that do not interest me, soooo – I don’t read them. Keep on keeping on, in your magazine and in your faith.

    • Greg Gerber says:

      Thanks Kelly. I was actually stunned by how many people of faith I encountered during my three-year journey as a full-time RVer a few years ago. Maybe I should start a website just for them.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

  • Jack Gilliam says:

    You can’t change folks beliefs. For example we do not eat meat or dairy. My wife healed her heart problems and got off 5 prescriptions by changing her food. My brother healed his diabetes in 30 days, after he was told he was going blind. Just by changing his food. But folks would rather be sick than give up what is making them sick. Religion is the same way. Nobody likes change.

    • Greg Gerber says:

      Someday, I will share my complete testimony. If there was a guy more messed up in life than I was at age 35, I’d like to meet him. I was a die hard agnostic in college that made people of faith actually cry with my flame-throwing invective. I always admire people who have had it together their entire lives. I wasn’t that strong. Glad to hear how a few of the right changes impacted some people you love.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

  • Tim Bauer says:

    I will be sending your inspirational insights to several friends, so as to inspire them as you inspired me. Thank you for this and previous postings. Be blessed and stay blessed.

    • Greg Gerber says:

      Thanks Tim. I am glad there are some people who do enjoy the stories. I love to hear other people’s faith stories. I find them uplifting, enlightening and motivating.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

  • Bob W says:

    This is a very refreshing change to all of the negative gripes about how badly our RVs were built, campgrounds crowded, etc. etc. If you don’t like it, don’t click it. Thanks Greg for standing up for Christ, we need more of this in the world.

    • Greg Gerber says:

      Thanks Bob. I appreciate the support. The news is filled with stories of people who were at the end of their ropes and just snapped. If I can provide a dash of hope to others, I’m happy to do so.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

  • Jerome says:

    I honestly don’t see the point of proselytizing in an RV news letter! Sure, it belongs to you so can do what you want but many people are not religious or celebrate non christian religions so is it worth alienating people? Aren’t there other forums more appropriate for you to express yourself publicly? Another daily RV newsletter had a recent article about guns and that stirred things up – I didn’t see the point of the article; why go there when the purpose of that outlet was RVs? People believe what they want but I read your newsletter for RV articles and information. If I want religion I have multiple churches and other media options. With that said, I have enough common sense to know that if I don’t want to read your religion article I simply don’t click on it. Personally, I’m not offended that you are religious but we live in a very diverse, multi-cultural, multi-religion, society so you will undoubtedly upset people and lose readers. Only you can determine what is more important to you. It is a free country after all thanks to all of our veterans. Best of luck!

    • Greg Gerber says:

      I appreciate your perspective, Jerome, and I am glad you realize you can just ignore that one article per week. I really don’t see anything wrong with one faith-based article per week. People who are offended, can find their news elsewhere. The RV industry is located in the heart of Amish country. There are a great number of people of faith working in this industry. For decades, the RV industry was the only industry I knew that included a prayer breakfast at its largest trade show of the year.

      People are upset when we cover RV fires, breakdowns and product quality issues, but we do. People get upset when we cover tenters (who are RV owners in waiting), but we do. I’m going to produce stories that I would want to read and hope most others will enjoy as well. People are offended at the drop of a hat today. I can’t worry about who might be offended by a story or a particular stand I take. The free dialogue of ideas have given away to political correctness and I don’t think America is any better for it.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

  • Jerry Chandler says:

    That is a good article for new Christian’s and a reminder for us older ones.

  • S M JENKINS says:

    We attended an RV tour where P&R (politics and religion) were forbidden.

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