In Acts chapter 1, verse 8, St. Luke reports that while He was in Jerusalem, Jesus said to the disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” As they were to begin spreading the Word about Him, notice how Jesus tells the disciples that they will start locally, and then they were to branch out in ever-widening circles. Evangelism emanates.
When we as believers think about evangelism, the same directive applies. Who better to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with than the members of our own family! Start locally!
What should we proclaim? The Gospel! It is important to teach our children the Ten Commandments. It is important to discipline them and teach them right from wrong. It is also important to teach them how to pray. It is good and beneficial to read Old and New Testament accounts to them. But we especially want to proclaim to our family the good news that Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, lived a perfect life in our place (active obedience) and died on the cross as our Substitute (passive obedience).
A devotion book intended for boys was recently given to our son as a gift. Unfortunately, as I’ve read these devotions to our sons at bedtime, I find that many do not contain the Gospel. I will often add in the Gospel so that our sons do not forget how God showed His love for us. I will add it in to remind them that the sins they have committed during the day have been washed away by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). When Jesus said this, He meant that He is the One who has come into the darkness of this world’s sin and given it light, hope, and peace. He shines everywhere, to the remotest parts of the earth. But again, the light shines brightest to those who are near. I can reach my immediate family with the light of the Gospel much easier than I can reach those on a far-off continent.
Years ago when my grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia, I had a choice to either go home to Arizona and see her while she was alive or to go home for her funeral, which doctors told us would be within six months. I decided to go home to see her and my grandfather while she was still alive. I did this because I didn’t know if she knew the Gospel. I had never talked much with my grandparents about spiritual matters because we kept away from the topic of religion, as many families do.
On that trip, I took along with me Luther’s Small Catechism and I opened to the Second Article of the Creed. Three minutes into the section, my grandfather stepped away from the table and never came back. But my grandma kept on listening to the truths about what Jesus has done for us. On that trip, my grandmother told me that she believed in Jesus as her Savior. I’m confident I’ll see her in heaven.
Proclaiming the Gospel (“doing” evangelism) to the members of our own families can be both difficult and easy. It is “easy” when we know our audience will be receptive, but it is hard when we are not sure if those we love will harden their hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit. May God grant us all persistence and strength to take the Light of the World to those in Jerusalem—those in our family.
Reverend Matthew Brooks
Pilgrim Lutheran Church
Faith Lutheran Church