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Dear Facebook friend…

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Let’s just agree on this one thing. We’re not all the same.

We don’t all think the same, act the same, behave the same, nor do we all believe the same things. Sometimes what I say, you may disagree with. Sometimes things you say, I disagree with. Sometimes we may even read something in a particular way, and interpret the thing completely differently to the way it was intended.

I think of Facebook as the public square. At times people share their opinion on the latest thing happening in the news, at other times we might share what we just had for lunch. Sometimes we share something that made us laugh. Other times maybe something that made us angry or even cry. It’s a place to catch up, keep in touch, confirm an appointment, make new friends or connect with old ones. Most of the time we share things and you might get the odd ‘like’ at other times no one will say anything at all.

I’m pretty certain, if you’ve known me a long time, more than ten years, you will have seen a lot of change, and I don’t mean just that I’m looking older.

Some of you will be offended by this change, and that’s ok. I’m ok with that.

Some of the things you say I don’t agree with either. You shouldn’t be surprised.

I don’t expect all of you to agree with my support for keeping the Marriage Act as it stands, nor do I expect many of you to read this far. Sadly, I think that some of the people who say I have caused them offense may not even read this. Some of you may not even care. That makes me sad.

I have come to believe that there is a purpose to this whole thing we call life. I use the word purpose intentionally because it implies that someone created life for a purpose. A little under 15 years ago I started seriously enquiring into whether there was more behind this thought. Having grown up in a multicultural society and seeing people exercise their beliefs in many different ways I eventually found myself in the place I least expected. I discovered historical evidence, biblical scripture and a personal conviction convinced me that there is a living God, and that it was possible to know him personally!

There is always a reason why we disagree on issues. Our worldview effects and informs our views. My belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour informs what I believe. The Christian faith also had a large impact on the cultures that most of us live. Most of my friends have a “Western” worldview and the Christian church has shaped a lot of what we know of our world. Hospitals, education, justice, law, morals/ethics, etc. Some of these things were inspired by a Christian conviction. Some of these ideas and institutions are now challenged. Thoughts, ideas and institutions that took hundreds or thousands of years to develop, have been undone in past decades. Some say that we’ve grown up and no longer need to believe in anything other than ourselves.

The Bible informs me that God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman, and that the place where sex is to be enjoyed is in marriage. This is the idea that shaped our original definition of marriage, and it is this definition that has been challenged in Western nations. So naturally, people who believe in the biblical definition of marriage, especially people that call themselves followers of Jesus, are going to be concerned with the proposed changes.

I have a few friends who are gay. Some of them are in committed relationships, some of them are not. Some have confided in me their struggle with their sexuality. Some have told me how they wish they could be ‘normal’ so they might be able to bear their own children. I’ve wept with some of them. Some have told me that they are happy with their sexuality. I do not hate you if you are gay. I don’t even judge you. I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt judged by me. I am also convicted that God even calls me to love those that disagree with me. If you believe that same-sex marriage should be legalised, know that I disagree, but also know that if parliament were to agree and it does get legalised it doesn’t stop me from liking you or being your friend. We can disagree. But also know that it won’t change anything. Marriage is not defined by you or me. However others define it or change it, if it’s different to what the Bible says, then that’s not what my wife and I did when we were married in the sight of God. If that offends you, well that is not me hating you, I’m just sharing what the biblical model of marriage is.

I know that this will sound offensive, but the Bible does calls the practice of homosexuality a sin. So, when it comes to amending the Marriage Act (which is based on the Christian definition of marriage) to include same-sex attracted couples it is to say “let’s agree that the Bible says it’s ok for same-sex attracted couples to be recognised by the institution we call marriage”. As people who support the biblical idea of what marriage means, this is not ok.

Now I know that sounds like I’m calling you a sinner, and let me be clear. I don’t judge you. I am not free from sin either. I believe that God shows us in Scripture how to live, but we’ve all sinned. We’ve all failed to live by the standards (ethics) documented in the Bible. I have struggled as well with different things in the past, and I continue to struggle in other ways even today.

If you’re gay or you have a different opinion to me, I’m ok to disagree, but let’s continue to be civil and have a conversation. Let’s try to understand more clearly our differences. Believe me when I say, I have personally invested hundreds of hours into this. I care deeply for the gay friends in my life. I hope that we may continue to be friends. You and I may disagree, but we should give room to explain why we believe what we believe without disrespecting one another.

I know that Jesus offends. The Bible even says that people will hate us for our faith in Jesus and that we shouldn’t be surprised when our own family and friends say they hate us just because we believe in Jesus. Imagine that? I have both friends and family that say they hate me because I believe that Jesus is God! That’s how offensive Jesus is!

So go ahead, ‘unfriend me’, hate me, spit on me, do what you have to do. It won’t stop me loving you and praying for you.

In history’s darkest hour. Nails smashed through his skin and bones. Hanging. Suffocated by his own weight. Jesus Christ. God himself in the person of his Son. Deserted by his friends, family and followers. Died the death you and I deserve. He died in our place. He took upon himself the sin of the world so that everyone that would believe in Him would send eternity with God. That truth has offended people for thousands of years, and I am not surprised if it offends you either. I am thankful for the cross, and I am thankful that Jesus didn’t just stay dead, but that he rose from the dead and this fact was witnessed by thousands.

I am trusting that Jesus defeated death, and while I am sad that we might not agree, I am happy to be your friend even if you disagree with me. I hope that you will extend the same to me?

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