I had a frank conversation with a friend recently that I wasn't well prepared for. We were hanging out talking about other things, and somehow his emotional barriers to faith came up - he was struggling to understand how good people could be condemned to hell just because they don't believe in God, or if they believe in the wrong God.
This is a question that comes up fairly regularly with various friends, but I still wasn't prepared. I didn't have a neat answer to share. I didn't have any books in mind to recommend. All I could do is speak from my own experience with God in trying to answer that question in a way that I can live with. But even as I was sharing from my experience, I could tell that it wasn't actually hitting him where he was struggling. The answers that I've come to within my relationship with God that allow me to be close to him didn't reach him where he was at.
So I left that conversation feeling like I'd missed an opportunity. But even after I had time to reflect on it, I wasn't sure what I could've said differently. I felt like maybe I needed to listen more, to hear more about the deeper issues behind the questions as he presented them. I definitely came away feeling like I needed to keep talking to him and walking beside him. I've also been made aware of the tip of the iceberg on his barriers to faith, so I'll be praying that the Spirit will show me what stories to tell or how to help him take the next steps. Most of all, I'll be trying to model what faith looks like in my own life, even when there are doubts and difficult things.
What about you? Would you have been discouraged by the conversation if you'd had it with a friend? What are the things that you would be praying for as you continued in relationship with this friend? What would you hope God would show you?