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My parent's salvation

Something that weighs on my heart is whether or not my parents become Christians. I know in my mind that their decision to follow Christ isn't my responsibility, but in my heart I feel that it's up to me. Do you have any advice for how to surrender their salvation to God and rest secure in their decision?

Robin's Response

First of all, I appreciate your heart of love for your family.  Your deep burden for their salvation shows your commitment to them and to God. I know you want them to experience the freedom of forgiveness and the joy of walking with God and appreciate your deep urgency for them. But the hard part is that you haven’t seen “results” from that love yet.  Your parents haven’t become Christians yet.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve seen other families where salvation seems to spread quickly from person to person.  We rejoice with them, but also secretly wonder why our own family members haven’t surrendered their hearts to God yet.  If Satan can succeed in making us feel like failures in the area of sharing our faith, then he can tempt us to shut down or perhaps even to give up.

If it’s “up to you” whether your parents become Christians, then that means that you are responsible for where they stand spiritually.  That opens the door for Satan to lodge a powerfully hurtful accusation that breeds a deep insecurity, “It’s your fault.  If you were (fill in the blanks) bolder, more spiritual, more prayerful, a better disciple, then your parents (or siblings, children, neighbors) would already be Christians.”

But there is a vast difference between sharing our faith and being responsible for another person’s response to the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 says:

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Here, we see that God does give us a high calling—to plant and water the seed of his word in other’s hearts. But, Paul makes a clear distinction between where our role in the Gospel ends and God’s begins.

Taking responsibility for another person’s salvation means that you’re taking responsibility for whether the seed grows or not. But the Bible tells us that as much as we try we can’t make the seed grow. Only God can make the seed grow. (To make absolutely sure we get this Paul says it twice!)

The good news is that God loves our family members and is nourishing the seeds we plant even when we don’t see visible results. Remember the parable where Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a seed that grew while others were sleeping?  “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”  Mark 4:27

I believe if you watch closer, you’ll see moments where God pulls back the veil and you see that you have had an impact on your parents. You’ll see it in the way they seek out advice from you. Or their respect for your high morals (even if it is veiled in teasing or ridicule).

But even if they outright reject God, it’s not you they’ve rejected. They’ve simply made a decision that God has given them, and only them, the right to make.

My faith is that God put me in exactly the family that I am supposed to be in.  And I take the task of bringing them the gospel through my life and through my words very seriously (see 1 Timothy 4:16).  But I’m convinced that God loves them more perfectly than I do and is working in ways I don’t see.

My determination is that I will never stop seeking my family’s salvation.  But even more, I will never stop trusting God and believing in His work in their lives.


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