Being born into a Christian home and coming to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior is not only accepted, but taken for granted. In fact being born into a Christian home anywhere in the world and not accepting Christ is abnormal, while being born into a non-Christian home and accepting Christ, especially for those coming from a Middle-Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, or any other such Eastern cultures is considered NOT NORMAL and generally carries with it severe consequences, up to, and including death. There are many Muslim countries where Christians are beaten to death; the consequences of a Muslim converting to Christianity are severe, and may include stoning to death, banishment from the family, town or village, or even being burned alive. Similarly the consequences of a Hindu or a Buddhist converting can be extreme and severe. You can be excommunicated from your family of birth, ostracized, cut off from the family, from your inheritance, or be put to death. It is downright dangerous to convert to Christianity. Christ never stated that the road would be easy. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." John 15:18
Then there are other circumstances where converts to Christianity, or those who chose Christianity as a child, need to delicately balance the concept of respecting their parents of Eastern origin and extended family with those of their Christian values so as not to have their world completely destroyed. Some of these folks may live in the United States or Europe and be American or European Citizens and have to go visit their non-believing parents, relatives or siblings in a different part of the world on occasion. This is not sin. This is not abandonment of the Cross. As I have mentioned previously, in a previous posting, here www.paulsgospel.org/motd/walking-on-eggshells-dontjesus-didnt associating with a non-Christian doesn't make you a non-Christian. Indeed Christ called us to be lights in this dark world. Remember that there may be blowback from other Christians, especially Zionists who might use the phrase "I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols." Isaiah 42:8 or Joshua 24 (see below) and that is okay. Gently and politely explain to them that you are not abandoning your faith when you associate with your non-believing relatives. Associating with your elder non-believing parents or relatives and trying to convince them to come to faith in Christ before they die is not a sin. It is a Christian son or daughter's duty. Then there are some who have two or three sets of parents --- one set Christian and the other non-Christian. The world is full of all sorts of people in different circumstances. It is always a good idea to treat people with Grace and to give them all the latitude in the world, instead of rushing to judgement about someone. There may be some with two sets of parents, and who completely disagree with almost everything one set of their parents ever said, did, or stood for, but who respect them only because the Bible is full of scripture which calls us to respect our parents. Some I know travel half way around the world every year or two to an idol-worshipping (Hindu) country they absolutely despise traveling to, in order to visit parents who are aged (in their 80s) not because they agree with anything they ever said, did or stood for, but because they are their parents and the Bible calls for them to respect their parents. (See below for reference) Yes, I agree that Hinduism and idol worship at it's very best is a worthless waste of time, and at it's worst brings the wrath of the LORD down upon people who engage in it. Yet western folk have absolutely no hesitation going to an Indian doctor or dentist at their local clinic, to an Indian surgeon at your local hospital or to be saved by an Indian physician at your local Emergency Room. You gladly turn over the Information Technology Infrastructure for your Fortune 500 companies to idol-worshipping Indians to run. If you trust these people to save your lives at the ER and trust them to become CIOs and CEOs of your Fortune 500 companies and be the brains of your organizations, wouldn't you agree with me that these people deserve a chance to get to know the true LORD of the Universe, YAHWEH and to have a saving relationship with His son Jesus? Therefore I beg you to give these people an opportunity to save themselves before they burn in eternal hell for their idol-worshipping sins. Over the years the Indian community has given me several million reasons to dislike them, yet I harbor no grudge against them. It is not mine to judge them, it is God's.
So please do not jump to conclusions about people without knowing their life story, or the difficult path they have had to walk. Show them plenty of Grace, patience and latitude, knowing that they may be walking down a very difficult path balancing their own values with respecting people who don't know Jesus, because the Bible commands them to. Some underwent a change in name when they accepted Christ and their relatives still want to call them by their old name. Just because someone associates with non-believing relatives or friends, does not mean they have stopped worshipping the one true God of the Universe, the LORD, or His son Jesus. When it comes to scripture, there are conflicting verses in the Bible regarding the the treatment of non-believing relatives, especially non-believing parents:
The four apparently conflicting passages in the Bible you will likely struggle with if you are of Eastern Descent:
1. Honoring your father and mother (Numerous References in the Bible)
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12
"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16
"The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures." Proverbs 30:17
"Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old." Proverbs 23:22
"If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness." Proverbs 20:20
"He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach." Proverbs 19:26
“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death." Exodus 21:17
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise)" Ephesians 6:1-2
"For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die." Matthew 15:4
"You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” Luke 18:20
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:1-4
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." Colossians 3:20-21
2. The Covenant Renewal at Shechem (Joshua 24)
Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.
“Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’
Choose Whom You Will Serve “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.
3. The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 14:25-33)
"Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."
4. Condemnation of unbelief (John 3:18)
"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
So, how do you reconcile these four sets of passages, and deal with parents or relatives who are non-Christian (or for that matter, employers, bosses or co-workers who are non-Christian):
a) Show them love, as Christ loved everyone, including the lost. He came to save the lost.
b) Be firm and set boundaries so they know that while you love them, you do not accept their religious or cultural values.
c) Tell them you love them, but insist that they know that you are a Christian believer and that you do not want interference from them in your personal or religious life.
d) Insist that they not interfere with your business, job, career or personal life. Again, setting boundaries is absolutely critical.
e) In Eastern cultures, religion is often intertwined with culture especially in all sorts of ceremonies, including birth, marriage, death, etc. If you are invited to a ceremony, politely decline to participate in the religious aspect of it. Same goes with eastern religious holidays. Politely decline.
f) Make it known to your unbelieving relatives that while you may love them, you are not one of them. You belong to Jesus and are called to be set apart, Holy and Sanctified.
g) If you changed your name when you became a Christian, let them know in no uncertain terms that you do not go by your old name any more. You are now a child of God, and God has given you a new name. You are the brother of Christ Jesus. There is lots of precedence of this in the Bible where God changed the names of those He called. See my message on this: https://www.paulsgospel.org/motd/name-changes-in-the-bible
h) Do not feign affection toward anyone. Be sincere. If you believe someone is full of crap about something, let them know in no uncertain terms that they are full of crap, but do it in a loving way --- the way Jesus would have told someone that they are wrong.
i) Let everyone know that working with, or for, non-believing employers, bosses or co-workers does not constitute your acceptance of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. You have your own set of beliefs and you reserve your right to believe in the LORD and in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit (The Trinity) regardless of who you work for or where you work. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17
If these non-believing relatives genuinely love you, they will accept you for who you are --- a Christ believer who will not change no matter what they say. If they truly believe your Christ witness, they might perhaps change their thinking and begin to explore Christianity. As Pastor Bill Hybels famously put it: You can nudge that door open just a little bit more, and perhaps it takes many people to nudge it a bit more until it fully opens to the love and acceptance of Christ, but ultimately it is an act of God and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring someone to genuine faith in Christ Jesus.
Prayer regarding this subject:
Your word says "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Lord we know that this earth is yours and everything and everyone in it. Lord we pray that you make unbelieving people everywhere believe. We wait for that day. We eagerly anticipate that day. We pray for that day. We pray that you bring peace to this earth, and reconciliation among men. Lord we pray that everyone everywhere including elderly non-believing parents, relatives and non-believing siblings everywhere come to saving faith in Christ Jesus and that this world finally realizes what you did for them when you came to this earth.
In Jesus' Mighty Name we Pray,