Robert Jeffress: 3 Ways to Deal With Your Non-Christian Family Members at Christmas

White House Christmas
A portrait of the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln flanks a pair of Christmas trees, toys, Nutcracker dolls and trimmings, in the State Dining Room of the White House, a preview of Holiday decorations being assembled for the season, in Washington, December 2, 2015. |

There are three different ways in which Christians can behave toward non-believing family members during the Christmas holidays, according to Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. 

The megachurch pastor shared an article on the First Baptist Dallas website in which he explains that while many Christians are filled with joy at Christmas, others "feel isolation" because of family at home who don't recognize Christ.

"For these people, Christmas has become about sharing the Gospel with loved ones, sometimes in tense conversations that deter from the merry mood," he notes.

"How do you lovingly address those who don't believe God is real, those who feel like they will never measure up, and those who think God is one of many?"

The advice he provides on the church's website focuses on three main strategies: prayer, looking for opportunities to share the Gospel, and sharing one's own story of faith.

Jeffress suggests that even though prayer "often seems like a wasted task," for a believer it is actually "the most powerful action you can take on behalf of your family."

"Pray that the Lord draws and softens the hearts of family members before you even walk in the door. Pray for opportunities for conversation, and pray that your actions and speech will ultimately reflect Christ," he advises.

Jeffress also points to Matthew 28 in the Bible and the Great Commission where Jesus calls on believers to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. He also notes that sometimes, the hardest people to talk to "reside in our homes."

"It's possible that we walk into these conversations knowing that we have more to lose if they go sour, and so we often avoid the hard topics. The most loving action you can take for your family is to share the Good News and continue to share it," he adds. 

"Most importantly, live and respond in such a way that they see something different in you and want to know and understand the difference."

Finally, Jeffress says that if the Christmas story itself fails to move non-believing family members, Christians need to open up about their own faith journey.

"Your story of life change is the most influential picture of the Gospel your family may see and want to respond to," he says.

"If the old is gone and the new has come in your life, your family will see a difference. This is your opportunity to point to Christ — the God who bent low and became a baby so that He could die for the sins of the world."

On the other end of the spectrum, some major secular groups, such as American Atheists, have also been speaking out about family situations over Christmas where not everyone believes the same when it comes to religion.

The group released its annual Christmas billboard campaign earlier in December, calling on atheists to skip church during the holidays.

Nick Fish, national program director for the group, said that the only way to remove stigma is to "show our friends and family that we are the same kind, loving and compassionate people they've always known us to be."

"This billboard campaign will be a starting point for that conversation in communities where atheists don't always have a voice," Fish added.

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