How to Cope with Family at Christmas

home-aloneWe often overlook the simple blessings of family this time of year. Family that brings us joy and a sense of togetherness, family we only see maybe once or twice a year. We overlook this simple blessing because, well, family can also annoy the crap out of us. We all have THAT one relative, you know the one, they are a close talker with halitosis or they are loud, long-winded and over opinionated, or they somehow manage to say exactly the most irritating thing at the worst possible time. I have at least one relative like this on my side of the family and one on my wife’s side of the family. I have for years “tolerated” these family members, and then proceeded to talk about how annoying they are on the car ride home. I have been especially convicted of this year. They maybe annoying relatives…but for all intents and purposes are they any worse than I am? Are their sins any worse than mine? What kind of impression does this behavior of mine leave on my children who hear everything I say on the way home?

Instead of being annoyed by these family members I’m making the intentional effort this year to witness to them of the gospel of Christ, in my deeds and words. I plan to greet them warmly as I would a brother or sister at church that I’m not annoyed by. I plan to talk to them freely about life, about Christ, His gospel and what the fellowship of believers’ means to me and my family, I will avoid talking about politics and I’ll be forgiving when they act like a sinner, because they are. And I will avoid talking about them in the car.

 After all Christ came into this world to forgive sinners, of which I am the chief, especially when I withhold the message of the saving power of the Gospel. I don’t expect brownie points, I don’t even expect that I’ll find these family members less annoying. I do think I will have shared the gospel with them, which, as a Christian is part of what we’re here to do…and what better time than Christmas.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11