How do you respond to someone who doesn't want Heaven because their loved ones won't be there?
How do you respond to someone who rejects Christianity because they have deceased loved ones who weren't believers and therefore won’t be in heaven? I think you need to recognize, first, that this is probably more of an emotional challenge than an intellectual challenge. The starting place in responding to this kind of objection is to ask questions and then to listen. So, you might want to start with asking, “Why?” Why is it the case you reject Christianity because you know your loved ones have rejected Christianity? Start to explore that a little bit more with them.
Often, there will be some intense emotions. There might be some anger or rage against God. Of course, dealing with the emotional consequences of not seeing a loved one for the rest of eternity is a tough thing. So, I think we need to patiently listen to our friends and their emotional anguish over this issue and patiently walk with them. This might be an issue that takes quite a while to get through. I think the first response is recognizing this is typically an emotional challenge and then trying to walk through it with a lot of love, and patience, and listening.
When it comes to the intellectual side of this, I guess the question might be, “Why reject Christianity because others have rejected it and won't receive eternal life?” Trying to think of a parallel situation, let's say a patient has a disease. The doctor offers them the cure, and they reject the cure. If you come along and have the disease as well and say, “Because my loved ones rejected the cure, I'm going go ahead reject the cure as well,” it doesn't seem to be a rational position. Right?
In the same way, if sin is the disease and Jesus is the cure, it doesn't seem to be a good rationale to reject the cure because your loved ones have rejected the cure. No matter what the consequences are in eternity, that is not enough to reject the cure, to reject Jesus.
Someone might say, “Well that means that I'm not going be with them for the rest of eternity. That's why I'm going to reject Christianity.” Then, we need to think carefully about the nature of the afterlife. If there is a place called Heaven and a place called Hell, then we need to think carefully through what those things are like.
It almost seems like the assumption here is that if this person rejects Christ, then there's going to be some kind of reunion with their loved ones. We need to understand the nature of Hell and what Hell is really like. Hell is a place of anguish and torment. Hell is a place where you're separated from all of God's love and goodness. Hell is a horrible choice. It's not going to be a happy reunion for anyone, even with your loved ones. So that may be an assumption that's in the background that we need to expose. The choice you're making isn't a reunion with your loved ones. No, its conscious torment away from all that is good and loving, so it's not a reunion. We need to think through what is the nature of Hell.
I think these are things to help this person walk through if this is an objection they have to Christianity. This might help them begin to make more progress towards identifying Christ as not only true but also good, and there's this beautiful vision of heaven even without our loved ones that is available to us.
In fact, the essence of Heaven is God Himself. It's not our families that are the most important thing to be reunited with. Maybe part of the problem is that we've turned family into an idol. God Himself is the thing that will ultimately satisfy our souls for all eternity.