Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and I can already taste my wife’s delicious turkey. But let’s face it, it’s not always fun to gather with your extended family around the holidays and break bread with them. In fact, for many of us, it’s more of an obligation than a celebration, and we really just can’t wait until it’s over—at least, that’s how it always was for me growing up. Later in my life, we pretty much tend to stick to immediate family only for our holidays, and it’s much more bearable, even if we do differ ideologically. At least the people that are closer to us know our boundaries, and won’t cross them.
But that’s not true for everyone. Sometimes, we marry into a large family that has a tradition of getting everyone together for the holidays. And you always have those cousins who love to talk politics at the table. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, so long as everyone agrees, it’s the little progressive fresh-out-of-college hotheads that ruin everything. They grew up in church, still claim to be Christians, but have been indoctrinated with all the latest liberal trends and are now defending drag queen story hour at the dinner table.
Your aunt, who used to sit with you in church when you were a kid, has recently embraced the feminist movement and now believes it’s okay for women to have abortions. She refuses to acknowledge abortion as murder, and this, frankly, pisses you off. And for whatever reason, some of these people are now defending “gay marriage” and believe people should be able to use whatever public restroom they choose, despite the danger it poses to women and children.
You wonder, how did these people change so much? These people are supposed to be Christians, yet they have embraced the world and its ideologies. How can I get through this holiday season dealing with these people?
The Apostle Paul has the perfect answer for you: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:22)
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You see, there is a reason Paul warned us against breaking bread with such people. These people are not Christians. Christians do not embrace the world, its ideological movements, and its irrational thinking. Christians are born again, have a mind renewed and transformed by the gospel, and seek to follow Christ and honor God in all things. And these two contradicting worldviews are at enmity with one another and cannot coexist peacefully. One side is the mission field while the other side are the missionaries, and the only spiritual enterprise we’re to have with such people is a call to repentance and faith.
Of course, this does not mean that we are to never spend time with or interact with our lost family members—but our primary purpose in these interactions should be to expose them to the gospel. And sitting around the Thanksgiving table with them—a table that is meant to serve as an act of worship and thanks to God for his providence—does not do this. When we pray with false converts, it gives them the impression that we’re praying to the same God. In essence, you’re putting your stamp of approval on their supposed conversion. But when we pray for them as we should be doing, particularly, for their repentance, they’re going to be offended. When we confront them with their sin and error, they’re going to be offended. If we say nothing, we’re doing them no justice.
So, if you’re wondering how you can get through the holidays putting up with people in your life, extended family, or otherwise, who claim to be Christians but make you want to vomit with their worldly obsessions and liberal ideologies, then heed the Apostle Paul, take comfort, and excuse yourself from the situation. It’s biblical, and it just might do exactly what God intends it to do, as His word never returns void.