It happened every Tuesday: James and Mike get together at the local coffee shop to get caught up with each other and their busy lives. Over a couple of cups of french roast, the longtime friends get the updates on how work and family are doing. If time permits, they move to the the topics and issues of today’s society.
James and Mike met in college—in freshman English at State over a dozen years ago. They quickly became friends; it wasn’t long until they were able to become roommates and share an apartment near campus. They were sharp, hard-working students; both graduated in four years magna cum laude, and both quickly landed jobs that kept them in the region.
It wasn’t too long after graduation that James met Denise. Denise was beautiful, intelligent…and a committed follower of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t long before James heard about Jesus put his own faith in Christ to receive eternal life. James quickly became an avid reader and student of the Bible, getting involved in Denise’s church, and becoming a ready learner of what it means to follow Jesus. A year later, James proposed to Denise; within six months they married.
James and Denise had saved enough money to put a down payment on a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood. Twelve years of marriage saw James with a successful career, a thriving marriage—and three beautiful kids. He was actively serving in their church as a home group leader, as well as heading up a number of mission projects and trips to places all over the world. The change in James, from college to today, was nothing short of astounding.
“I’m glad that works for you, bro,” he would say, “but I’m not going to depend on any crutch to get through life.”
Mike, on the other hand, landed a nice job about the same time as did James, and began a solid career. He met Paula about a year after graduation; they married after six months of dating. Their marriage, however, began to sour, and after three years Paula left Mike, leaving Mike in a pool of pain and despair.
James was there for Mike during that dark time. Their friendship grew closer in the process; nevertheless, the ordeal left Mike rather bitter, cynical about all religions and even about the existence of God.
James tried to share with Mike the difference Jesus was making in his own life. Mike, however, would hear none of it. “I’m glad that works for you, bro,” he would say, “but I’m not going to depend on any crutch to get through life.”
So James would not push the subject; neither, however, would he shrink away from every opportunity to tell Mike what Jesus had done in his life, describing events that could only be described as “God-things.”
On this particular Tuesday, Mike came into the coffee shop with his french roast in one hand and his smartphone in the other. “Take a look at this,” he sneered. “Look at this article about this gal who owns a bakery. She lost her bakery because she would not do business with this lesbian couple who wanted a cake for their wedding.”
James swiped through Mike’s phone screen. “Yeah, I read that a few weeks ago. Shame she is being denied her religious liberty over this.”
“She’s denying those two women their civil rights, though! She shouldn’t use religion as an excuse to discriminate.”
But Mike was just getting warmed up. “And that brings up something else. Why are all of those Christian right-wingers so anti-gay? Why are they so obsessed over what two other people do with their own lives?”
Mike was becoming more animated in his point. “You know, I have seen enough of those holier-than-thou people on the news quoting the Bible for reasons why they are so anti-gay. I’m sick of hearing it!”
Mike had yet to take a sip of his french roast, which was slowly getting cold. “So, Mr. Jesus follower, where do you land on this whole gay thing, and this whole marriage thing? And don’t start quoting to me all of those Bible verses about homosexual behavior. That same Bible says that shellfish are sinful, too! Tell me why you believe what you believe!”
How should James explain the truth of Scripture to Mike about this issue? Where does he begin? What passages of Scripture should he use? How would you do it if you were James?