DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My nephew says he’s an atheist and doesn’t want anything to do with religion or religious people. If someone wants to be religious, that’s their business, he says, but he resents people trying to change him. How can I convince him he’s wrong? — G.B.
DEAR G.B.: You probably can’t convince him. From what you say, your nephew is determined to run his own life, and he doesn’t want God or anyone else to interfere. The people of Jeremiah’s time refused to listen to his warnings: “It’s no use,” they told him. “We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts” (Jeremiah 18:12).
But God can convince him, and that’s why the most important thing you can do is pray for your nephew. Pray not only that he’ll realize that it makes far more sense to believe in God than to disbelieve in him, but also that he’ll realize just how empty and hopeless life is apart from God.
Also pray that he’ll face his stubbornness and the dangers of rejecting God’s moral standards. Pray most of all that he’ll turn to Christ and open his heart and life to his transforming power.
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Does this mean you should give up trying to convince your nephew that he’s wrong? No, not necessarily. God can use our words to open someone to his truth. Ask God, therefore, to help you be sensitive to your nephew and to speak only when he’s willing to listen. As the Bible says, there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
The most convincing argument you can give, however, is that of a Christ-filled life. Does he see Christ in you? Christ’s love, his joy, his patience, his hope? No one can argue with the reality of a life that’s been changed by Christ.
Write “My Answer,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201; or go to BillyGraham.org.
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