Jesus is sending your family and my family to people who are different from us as an important part of His mission. Love is the proper conduit for the gospel and is best demonstrated through relationships. For many Christians, the mission becomes difficult because Christ is calling us to love people who are different from us in worldview, culture, and religion. As parents, we can equip our children to love all people for the sake of God’s mission by our own model.
Here are four ways:
1. Know people who are different from you. Many believers become very tribal, only associating with other Christians. Knowing people who are not Christians is the first step. Who does your family know that is distinctly “un-Christian?” Get to know these people as a family.
2. Become friends with people different from you. Become friends with people who do not know Jesus. Friendship goes beyond familiarity. It is enjoying a person in a consistent way. Friendship requires genuine pursuit and sacrifice. It takes investment. Become genuine friends with a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, or anyone who does not yet believe in Jesus.
3. Share a table with people who believe differently. Hospitality is an intimate act of love toward people outside of your family. Invite people who are different from you to share a meal with your family in your home. Do not rush the experience. Linger and ask questions. Learn about your friends out of genuine interest.
4. Experience sacred spaces together. One of the greatest demonstrations of love is to enter the sacred spaces of people who believe differently. In turn you can invite them into yours. If you have a Muslim friend, visit the mosque with him. Learn about his beliefs and experience Friday prayers. When he invites you, go as a family to an Eid al-Fitr celebration at the end of Ramadan (month of fasting). At some point, you will have the opportunity to invite your Muslim friend into your own sacred spaces like your small group, your worship gathering, or a Christmas event designed for the whole family.
Life on mission requires loving all people no matter how different they are from us. Teaching our children to love all people by our own demonstration equips them to go and make disciples of all nations. Genuine love is the best pipeline for the good news that is salvation in Christ alone. Involve your children in the mission of God by knowing and loving people unlike you, together as a family.
About the Author: Brian Haynes is a husband, father, and Lead Pastor at Bay Area Church and Christian School in the Houston area. He is an author and contributor to the global and local family ministry conversation. He is working daily for the restoration of people, families, and churches.