I find myself in the situation of not knowing how to feel or think when a wayward relative or friend (meaning no interest in God at all) decides to turn to, or return to, the Evangelical world. Of course I want them to know God, the God who is there and I want them to pattern their lives around the way that God says that life works best.
But it doesn't answer the question. In my old days, it was a no-brainer. If a relative (talking here of siblings, nephews or nieces) joined an Evangelical church it was always a time of rejoicing. I can clearly remember when my niece (raised by my sister as a pure heathen) joined this very fundamentalist church. I was so happy that she had "come to know the Lord." But she has been involved with this church now for two decades. It is run by a famous TV evangelists. She is now on his staff and travels the world with him. How exciting.
But even today, I tuned into his program for a minute. My niece is behind the camera. I couldn't stand it. It was horrible. He was using intensive mind and spiritual manipulation to get people to send him $300. He is very, very rich with at least one (but I think two) private jets. He has several mansions. So was it a good thing that she went from no spiritual interest to being in this cultish mess? I'm not so sure and would probably feel better if she were an intellectual agnostic . . . or even a self-proclaimed atheists. Why? Because she may have more hope of finding the truth than she does now.
I'm thinking about this because yesterday my mother told me that my sister (this niece's mother) had "rededicated her life." Of course to my dear-ole (and I mean this with love) Baptist mother, that is a very good thing. But again, I'm not so sure.
This sister lives in the world of glamor and pretend. We are talking plastic surgery, fast cars, lots of rich men suiters. This is a world of pretend, and when she rededicates her life (as she has before) it is part of this complex script. To hard to explain here. I would, however, feel better if my sister became obsessed with the writings of some great (and truthful) author, say George McDonald, and never visited one of these bleached-blond, lots of make-up Southern Baptist churches . . . do you know what I mean? I think I'm saying it is about sincerity.
It would be very, very hard for me to go out on "evangelism" like I use to. I now know that 90% of what I would be doing would be recruiting people to a subculture of Evangelicalism. What I really want for them now, is a sense of the true God who is there.
Please don't take me wrong. I'm not opposed to them going to a church. But I think I would feel better if my sister (or her daughter) was going to a Catholic church, something total new to them . . . because it would seem more sincere. But, the fact that my sister was raised in Baptist-pretending culture, when she goes back to it (usually for a couple of months when she is in crisis) I am dubious about the significance of it.
The same applies to some of my own kids. I would not be happy if they went from agnosticism (as a couple might be right now) into an Evangelical church. My wife wishes that they were part of Campus Crusade or the Navs. I don't because I know it would me them giving up their brains.
So, how do we pray for the lost? Maybe I'm not making any sense but my mother was a little shocked when her "religious son" (meaning me) was not excited to hear that her wayward sister had rededicated her life once more. Maybe this time it does mean something.