A Chinese translator told a visiting theologian that her Buddhist parents admired the teachings of Jesus, but they were offended by the idea that someone had to believe in Him to be saved. They worried that their Christian daughter now believed her ancestors were in hell. The translator said, “Revering my ancestors means much to me, and I want to assure my parents that I do not want to dishonor my family heritage. So please tell me what I, as a Christian, can say to my parents about this.”

This profound question haunts many believers who feel torn between Jesus and their family. We can find help in the story of Rahab, who recognized her only hope was found in “the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). She begged the spies to save both her and her family when God used Israel to judge her sinful city (Joshua 2:12-13). The spies told her to mark her house by hanging a scarlet rope from her window. Then all the family that gathered in her house would be saved.

One thing Rahab’s story reveals is that God loves our families. He sent Jesus to die for them, perhaps symbolized by the scarlet rope in the story (Joshua 2:18). We can’t say with certainty where our ancestors are—only God knows their destinies. We do know, however, that God commands us to honor our fathers and mothers, so we can readily honor our ancestors just as they deserve (Exodus 20:12).

It’s impossible for us to fully know or understand the futures of those in the past, but we can speak for God today. May we lovingly encourage our family members to join us in the house with the scarlet cord. Our loving God allows us to be united in Him by faith in Jesus—the only One who will keep us together forever.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Ezekiel 37:1-14