“All I want is to be a teacher,” says Arpit, “but I studied computer engineering. My neighbors will tease my parents if I take a job at a school. They’ll say, ‘Why did you educate him in such a big field and now all he’s doing is teaching?’ So, I’m still looking for a job in IT.”
Ask nearly any Hindu young person how they chose their field of study, profession or marriage partner, and you’ll uncover the advice and direction of parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Rarely is a decision made outside of family wishes. Maintaining the family reputation and honoring parental authority are the primary responsibilities of any Hindu.
Jesus affirmed the commandment to “Honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2a) while also asserting that we must love Him more than our father and mother (Luke 14:26). For young people like Arpit, who are considering the claims of Jesus, the tension between these two commands of Christ raises the question, “How can you follow Jesus exclusively and not dishonor the claims on your life made by your parents and community?”
Madhu made the courageous choice to follow Jesus, even though his high-caste Hindu family objected. They protested that Jesus is only worshiped by the poor and lower castes—not by a respected family like theirs. They worried that his future employment and marriage prospects would suffer and were angry about how his new loyalty to Jesus curtailed his involvement in religious ceremonies.
While following Jesus, Madhu worked hard to affirm his relationship with his parents. He participated in family events as much as he could and respected their desires for his education and profession. He continued to eat the vegetarian diet his parents considered pure, even though his church community taught him he was free to eat meat. Madhu’s parents began to feel more genuine love and respect from him than they had in the past. Their hearts started softening towards Jesus, who had brought about these changes.
Navigating the claims of Hindu family and group identity while following Jesus requires wisdom, grace, and perseverance.
WAYS TO PRAY:
PRAY FOR new Christ-followers to respond in love and wisdom to their parents and extended families.
PRAY FOR their faith to be a sweet aroma to their communities. (2 Corinthians 2:15)
PRAY FOR whole communities to turn to Jesus together. (Acts 16:31–34)