A gracEmail subscriber writes that although he serves Christ in a nondenominational fellowship that loves Jesus, builds up each other, gives to the needy and goes all around the world personally sharing the gospel, his mother considers him an unbeliever because he does not belong to her particular religious organization. The mother frequently gives him religious literature intended to correct his “false” views, but she is unwilling to read or listen to anything he might offer in response. What, he asks me, can he do in this situation?
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I do understand your pain and frustration. Just remember that your mother loves you as her child, yet she can only behave out of the understanding which she has been taught. Sadly, she has been taught to think in terms of religion rather than relationship with Jesus. Religion usually views evereything in terms of institutional or sectarian allegiance and legalistic performance and understanding. Only God can really change your mother — by opening her “eyes” of understanding through the power of the Holy Spirit to see Jesus. For the present, you can only do so much.
You can pray for her without ceasing, asking God to shine the light in her heart so that she can see the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 4:4, 6). Do not tell her that you are doing this, which understandably would prompt a defensive reaction. You can love her as your mother and show it in every way possible that is not “religious” (as she considers matters) — that is her blind spot at the moment. You can exemplify a godly life of holy, loving character in general and good works. These are two areas which even in her religious blindness she can recognize as coming from God and which God often is pleased to use to penetrate religious blindness. As you do these things, you can be very watchful for any sign that God is working in her heart to provide an opening for you to speak respectful and gentle words of truth.
Remember, God opens hearts, God opens doors, and God opens mouths. As we live before others in the new life of the Spirit in Christ, God is pleased to open hearts. As we look for indications of God’s work, he will open doors of opportunity. As we present ourselves to be used by him to walk through those doors, God will open our mouths and give us words to say which he will then use. Please spend some time prayerfully reading Philippians 2:3-16; Colossians 4:2-6 and 1 Peter 3:13-16. (When God does open doors to her heart, some of the material on my website might then be useful — particularly A Journey Toward Jesus and The Grace of God. Both booklets were written for people in your mother’s religious situation and God has used both to help many such people gain a clearer view of Jesus Christ.
As Charles Spurgeon once said, there are two lines that run side by side through the Bible: divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Although we can never on earth see how these two realities converge, we can live our lives in faith that both are true. As we humbly work out the full implications of our own salvation relationship with the Christ who humbled himself and was exalted by God, we may be confident that God will creatively energize in us such desires and such deeds as carry out his own saving purpose for the world.