Between religions, there are defections going in two directions all the time. The devil particularly delights in defections from clerical families. I have never heard of the son of an Orthodox presbyter becoming a Muslim, but I’m sure it happens from time to time.
We tend to rejoice (why should we not?) when Muslims or other non-Christians embrace Christianity, especially when we can tell from their living testimony that the conversion is genuine. Many times, though, converts talk as if they have really accepted our faith, when in fact they have just exchanged one religious ideology for another.
The same is true when Christians become Muslims or Jews, probably more so, because though Christianity expresses itself as a religion, at its core it is something entirely different: it is the presence of the living God who interacts with us in the most intimate terms.
In Islam and Judaism that intimacy cannot occur, unless believers in those creeds are actually in a relationship with Jesus Christ without knowing it. Aside from what anyone says, Christian or non-Christian, churched or unchurched, there is no mediator between God and man except the God-Man Jesus Christ, who is both Son of the Father and the Word of God.
Though we churchables define and try to confine Him within our doctrinal formularies, we know from watching Him in the written gospels and in today’s world where He is still active, that like the Spirit of God, He goes where He wants to go. He can go and show Himself anywhere, and He usually does.
Yes, He abides with us, among the sheep of His pasture, the flock that He guides, but at the same moment He is before His Father’s throne interceding for us, and again at the same moment He is out walking the world seeking His lost sheep.
Do we accompany Him there?
All of us, no matter who we are, or in what state of life, are poor before the Lord. We know we lack and all of us try to make up for it somehow. Just because we find what we think we lack in our native religious culture is not a sign that we have found it, found Him, who alone fulfills our every true desire and withers our every fantasy.
What we think about God is what comprises our religion, but He loves us and saves us without our thoughts, even without our doctrinal beliefs, that is, totally without our help. He loves us and saves us only because we come to Him in whatever way, crying out to Him,
‘I am Yours, save me!’
Don’t we believe that He knows all about us? Don’t we believe He knows who it is we’re crying out to? Just as He loves us in this unconditional way—what else can unconditional mean, if not, total abandon on our side, total mercy on His?—so we must continue to love our children, even when they sin, even when they stray.
It is not when our families have turned out as we expected because we faithfully carried out our responsibilities, because we were good examples, or because we loved and provided for them sacrificially, that we can consider ourselves blessed. These are the works and the expectations of the natural man. What if Christ wants to change us into men and women supernatural? What might that look like? This is not to say that when families stay true to the Lord in everything, it is not a good thing, or blessed, but that what we do when we are driven into the wilderness, proves our faith and purifies our inner man.
It is when things have not turned out as we expected, when we have suffered disappointments that mock our faithfulness, when our family members reject not only the faith we tried to hand over to them, which was the best we had, but when they reject us as well, and we still love them, still pray for them, still welcome them, still praise the good they do, refrain from judging them, abstain from blaming them, still want them even when they don’t want us, that we can consider ourselves blessed. ‘Be perfect,’ says the Lord Jesus, ‘as your heavenly Father is perfect…’