One of the themes that comes up here a lot, especially in the comments, is the importance of relationships in regard to bridge-building, community-building, reconciliation, etc. Just yesterday, Brian S. really hit on the importance of this in his comments here. Others have made the same point. On my own journey, I can honestly say that I have come to the point where I can say it really is all about relationships — especially relationships where people share their stories, listen openly, and try to really understand each other.
So here is my question for you (feel free to post in the comments your response): If you are a straight Christian, do you have any close gay friends? And if so, have you asked them to share their story? Do you know their journey? How and when (and why) they came out (or didn’t)? What is hard and what is good for them? What they think about God, Jesus, church, etc? Have you ever just sat down over coffee or a good meal and really listened?
And if you are a gay non-Christian, do you have any Christian friends? Do you know their story? How their faith became central to them? Why they believe what they believe? Have you ever just really listened to their story? Do you know their struggles? Joys? Journey?
And if you are a gay follower of Jesus, do you have gay friends who are not? Do you know their stories? What they think about Jesus, God, the church, etc? And do you have close straight Christian friends? Do you know their story? Do you know what they think about homosexuality and why?
So those are my questions for you; and now my challenge…
My challenge is to make sure the answer to the above questions is YES! Be intentional about it. Reach out and start the conversation. Invite someone to coffee. Talk. Ask questions. Listen. Don’t try to convert or convince. Just try to understand.
I have gay friends who are not believers, and it is really helpful for me to listen to their story. They know I am a Christ-follower and sometimes wonder why I would subject myself to the church. We have had some great conversations.
There are also a few folks from my past church that have made the effort to reach out and connect with me after all that happened. Sometimes it took awhile, but it happened. And always that was the start of reconciliation. And the most powerful moment have come sitting around sharing good food together and just honestly talking, asking questions, sharing. In many cases we don’t agree, but in love we are able to understand each other… and that is a really good next step.
So will you take the challenge? And if you have these kinds of friendships and relationships, I would love for you to post some of your thoughts and experiences…