Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Conversation with Sarah (Part 1)

What follows is an email correspondence in which I am presently engaged, with a lady named Sarah. Sarah is a viewer of "On the Box," and she engages in conversation with Christians in the show's chat room.

This series of blog posts, which will be an "as is" (unedited, but for the occasional minor correction in grammar, spelling, or spacing, for readability) copy/paste of my email conversation with Sarah, is written with Sarah's knowledge and consent. The only email content that will not be shared in these posts will be content I deem too personal for public dissemination.

Subsequent posts in this series will come in the following manner. I won't write anything for public reading in this series until Sarah has had an opportunity to read it and respond to it, first.

Important Note:

This conversation is for your eyes, but not for your lips. When I am engaged in a one-to-one conversation, there are few things more frustrating than when someone, even a well-intentioned Christian, interrupts the conversation to offer their two cents. So, please, for this series of posts, keep your change in your pockets. I won't be posting comments.

If/when the conversation draws to a close, I may write another post asking people to share their thoughts about the conversation. But for now, please respect the ground rules for this series of posts. Thanks.

The reason for this series of posts is threefold:
1. To speak the truth in love to Sarah, with the hope God will bring her to genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

2. To speak the truth in love to the many people around the world who, like Sarah, are skeptical/agnostic regarding their belief in God, with the hope God will bring them to genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

3. To encourage and equip my brothers and sisters in Christ to speak the truth in love to the "Sarahs" in their lives.
With the above in mind, this series will begin with my introductory conversation with Sarah, which she initiated by emailing onthebox@livingwaters.com.

From Sarah to "On the Box":
Hi, my name is Sarah.

I will try to make this as short as possible. I am writing this email, because I would like to know, why you believe what you believe. Thank you for reading.

I have been close friends with Elizabeth for many years. As you know, she was agnostic. I am agnostic also. Elizabeth invited me to visit her, and we began talking about things. I could not believe that she had converted to Christianity. She of all people would never have converted. Elizabeth's tastes in TV viewing, music, ect. are completly different, and all she can talk about is God. She is like a new person.

I've always been drawn to Christians; I think partly because my Dad says he was a Christian, my Mom believes in God. Elizabeth told me to check out On The Box, and that I could email you.

People in chat have been trying to tell me that I am wrong for what I believe, and I now admit that I could be. Elizabeth's change brought doubt to my mind.

Alot of Christians take major offense when I start telling them what I believe. No one in chat has became angry at me, and I am thankful for that; because of how they respond to me, is why I keep coming back to watch the show.

Most of my agnostic/atheist friends think I am being a little too bold, when I share what I believe with Christians. I don't think so.

I would like to give you a synopsis of what I believe:

I don't believe in any particular God. I do not see proof for a God. I think when we die, we return to a peaceful place, where we came from before we were born. I think each one of us has a spark of goodness, that can allow us to return to that peaceful place. We become bad by our choices, and you can choose to make the right or wrong ones; however, you can correct those bad choices and start over fresh. You have a chance to change, correct your life, until the last breath in your body. I do agree, that not everyone can return to the peaceful place. Hitler, for example, could not return to this place that you and I return to...I think he, and other people like him are annihilated.

Elizabeth told me, about what she says, is God's judgement, and I've been walked through the Ten Commandments. Yes, we all do those things, but I don't hink you can rightly call everyone a "bad person". Majority of people try to do good towards others. I agree we have a conscience that tells us right from wrong, but I can't attribute that to God.

Here's one thought, that I cannot get out of my mind: My grandma was not a Christian. She was the sweetest, kindest, treated people correctly no matter who you were. She genuinely loved people. Never did harm to anyone. She died of cancer. I cannot imagine that a God would punish someone like her.

It's all confusing to me.---My husband is atheist, and he says "There is NO God."--- I say that I don't see proof for a God.--- Christians say, "There is a God, and we have to answer to him one day." --- I think, however, there are many Christian religions. We all can't be right. I admit that I don't know, if I'm correct or not. Maybe you can help me out a bit?

I've started communicating through email with someone from the chat, and will continue to listen to your show.

Sincerely wanting to know, and thank you, Sarah.
My first response to Sarah:
Hi, Sarah!

I am so glad you have been watching the program. And I’ve been following some of the chat room dialogue. I’m very glad to hear you are being treated kindly and civilly in the chat room. And that is exactly how you should be treated.

With your permission, I would like to share your email in a blog post, in which I will try, as best I can to answer your various questions. The reason I would like to do it this way is because I believe there are literally millions of people like you around the world who are not angry atheists, but honest agnostics who are just not sure about God, His Word, and the afterlife.

The post will in no way be used to embarrass you or harshly criticize you. I will also not allow any comments on the post that in any way try to malign or humiliate you—whether from professing Christians or unbelievers. While I will be honest, and maybe painfully at times, I will do so with kindness and respect; and with a genuine desire for you to come to faith in Jesus Christ as Elizabeth has.

Granted, I cannot change your heart or your mind. Only God can do that. I cannot argue you into Heaven; nor would I try. I would simply like to try to answer your questions out of care for you, a fellow human being.

I look forward to hearing from you.
From Sarah:
Sure! Thank you, and have a wonderful day
To Sarah:
Thank you, Sarah.

I will send you the link to the blog post when I have written it. I will try my best to write it before the end of the week.

And I will post any subsequent follow-up questions and answers as a series of posts.

Thanks, again.

Praying for you.
From Sarah:
Hi Tony,

Thank you so much for responding to my email. I do appreciate it.

I will be looking forward to what you have to say, and I will read with an open mind. No one has ever attempt to answer my questions, or explain what Christians believe. I am open for honest discussion, and that is why I talk with those in chat. I've been told I'm "loved" by Christians, and that comes as bit of a shock.

I'm sure you'll hear from me soon. I enjoy On The Box.

Thanks, Sarah
And so ends my initial conversation with Sarah. In Part 2 of this series, I will answer the questions Sarah posed in her initial email.

Stay tuned. And pray for me as I seek to answer Sarah's questions kindly, compassionately, and truthfully--according to the Word of God.