What to do when loved ones look for help in all the wrong places

Becca Garvin

In “My Church,” Maren Morris sings about her quest for a spiritual experience. She describes it like this:

I've cussed on a Sunday
I've cheated and I've lied
I've fallen down from grace
A few too many times
But I find holy redemption
When I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial
Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that's my church
When this wonderful world gets heavy
And I need to find my escape
I just keep the wheels rolling, radio scrolling
Until my sins wash away

Even if you have never heard the song, you can understand the concept it conveys. It’s a song about emptiness.

Seeking redemption. In need of a soul revival. Aren’t we all?

Every one of us has sinned and fallen from grace (Romans 3:23). The weight of this world leaves no shoulder untouched and anyone who lives in it needs an escape from something, or from everything.

I have tried [and failed] to drown out the screaming noises of life with many different “radios” — relationships, sex, work, drugs, alcohol. I have also tried to find relief through good things like loving and helping other people. But can I be honest? It hasn’t worked. When we search only for relief, we wind up on an emotional roller coaster.

Redemption does not come from feelings. Redemption is only found in a relationship with Jesus. Colossians 1:20-22 says that God chose to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus, making peace for our sin through Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross. As a result of what Jesus did — not anything we do — we are holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

The freedom and encouragement we get from worshipping and spending time with Jesus cannot be replaced by anything else. But what about our family and friends who don’t believe that? What about the people we love who, like Maren, are desperate for a soul revival but determined to look in the wrong places?

A lack of belief doesn’t change the fact that we were all created with a void only God can fill. It does, however, lead to a frustrating journey in search of freedom.

How Do We Help Others See the Truth?

I have wrestled with this question a good bit, often finding myself overwhelmed by trying to figure out exactly what to say, who to say it to, and when to say it. Lately, God has challenged me with this question: “How do you see me, Becca?”

I see God in my story. I know God is the answer because He is my answer.

He is the answer to my emptiness because I have experienced the fulfillment He gives. I know He is enough because He is the only one who has been able to rescue me from my darkest places and put shattered pieces of my heart back together. I am new, I am forgiven, I am whole. I have hope even in the worst circumstances. All because of Him.

Psalm 66:16 says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God;  let me tell you what he has done for me.” One of the best gifts we can give to the non-believers in our lives, to those searching for redemption in all the wrong places, is to tell them what God has done for us.

Four Ways to Help Your Friends and Family See that Jesus Is the Answer

1. Be open about the change in your life.

It is not possible to stay the same once you have experienced true redemption. In Jesus, we have exactly what we were seeking. And as we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, God shows Himself to people through us. Just look at what happened when Peter and John, two of Jesus’ close friends and followers, spoke up about their faith:

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

2. Be willing to be vulnerable.

We don’t have to be perfect for others to see the change in us. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us God is strongest in our weaknesses. So share how God has shown up for you, and be open about the ways He’s still changing you. Talking about our successes and our struggles gives our friends and family a better picture of who God is — a loving Father who saves us and shapes us.

Jesus is real, and the work He is doing in us is real. Being open about how Jesus is changing us and healing us can provide more comfort than our own wisdom ever could.

3. Love them well.

When we focus on loving people better instead of looking better than other people, we experience the freedom that comes with doing things God’s way instead of trying to force results on our own.

Right before Jesus was about to be crucified He said this to His disciples: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 18:34-35).

The way Jesus loves is not normal. It’s unconditional, extravagant, and relentless (Ephesians 3:18-19). People can’t help but take notice when they get a glimpse of the way Jesus loves.

4. Get them to church.

When someone steps through the church doors on Sunday, we know two things to will happen: they will hear the Gospel and God will speak to them at a heart level.

If your friends or family members are not open to church right now, that’s OK. They can still encounter Jesus because Jesus is in you. God works through us to show people how much He loves them (Matthew 5:14-16).

We all crave something deeper than this world can offer. Holy redemption is a real thing. A revival that penetrates all the way to the soul is possible. But that experience can only come from a relationship with Jesus.

In Psalm 119:54, King David wrote, “Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.” I don’t know what your life song sounds like, but I know mine would never be allowed on the radio the way it started out. Thankfully, God makes a pretty awesome DJ, and His remixes get stuck in people’s heads forever.

So let’s play them on repeat as loud as we can and blast the roof off of this place. The gates of hell trembling makes a pretty good bass.

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