Thoughts from Graham for January

Recently I was un-friended on Facebook by someone I had known since my teens. In fact, this was no ordinary friend. We had served in the same Regiment of the Army, in the same Company, the same Section – even in Northern Ireland. I cannot pretend it did not hurt. It followed a short intellectual tussle about philosophical and theological differences.

The differences proved un-resolvable. Essentially I was un-friended because I am a Christian and hold a theistic understanding of the world and my existence in it….and he doesn’t. In fact, he holds that Christian doctrine and those of Abrahamic tradition threaten world security; yes, world security!! Meaning essentially that all religions, to him, are culpable mind-viruses designed to control and fracture society – and not to mend them.

I soon grew weary of the argument, but we could not even manage to agree to disagree. His attitude was that any resistance to abandonment of faith meant simply that I was parochial, even medieval. Religion, and in particular Christianity, are, for my friend, at the centre of all the world’s troubles – not arms-dealers, political corruption, human greed, poverty, Illegal war or foreign policy designed to obtain resources and underserved advantage, and least of all never ever blame Capitalism….no never.

Is it not a sign of the times that you can be de-friended for being Christian? I spent many hours thinking about what this all meant. I asked myself and God why anyone would be hostile towards Christianity, towards Jesus? Had my friend really never heard the peace loving Gospel of Jesus? Why didn’t I have the answer?

Luckily there are many cleverer and more robust and dedicated Christians than I, in Holy Orders and not, and although I may have felt a little battered and bruised by the whole experience, I predominantly felt a sadness that my friend didn’t share the vibrancy of my faith. I prayed for him as I wondered what could have made him so totalitarian about something so beautiful.

Albert Camus the French existentialist wrote: “without a master, the weight of days is dreadful”. He points to the unavoidable conclusion that without God – not the other way round – freedom and responsibility is too heavy a burden for humankind. Christianity is liberating and invigorating, not oppressive or devaluing. The Christian message is one of love; it is about value, potential, it is about God wanting only the very best for all His creation. It is only the human heart that resists these things.

This whole event probably bothered more than it should. I suspect I am guilty of pride and self-reliance, and I know that I must guard against it and move on – get on with the proper business of proclaiming the life-giving, soul-saving Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Love my neighbour, love Jesus and love God, harmony, salvation – Love complete.