A Coffee Encounter

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“I do not believe a person needs to attend church in order to go to heaven.”

I looked him in the eyes, evenly. “I don’t either.”

His face became puzzled. “Then why do you want me to go?”

I had explained to this man earlier that I wanted him to go to church because I believe in Heaven and in Hell. I told him that I could not force God upon him, but that I at least wanted to be sure he knew more about Jesus Christ because it makes me sick to envision him in Hell someday. Oh yeah, and I did not want to be the one to teach him about Christ. Hence, the invitation to church.

“I believe that you need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order to go to Heaven. I want you to come to church so that someone other than me can teach you about Jesus. I did not want to talk to you about Jesus because you like me.” I slowly poured forth my reasoning.

His eyes twinkled, but he still looked slightly puzzled. “What makes you think I like you?”

I fixated a “You’ve got to be kidding me!” expression onto my face and crossed my arms. He started to grin and then reiterated, “What have I done to make you think I like you?”

Several obvious signals stood out in my memory. I made a quick reference to something he had done earlier that day and then challenged, “Tell me you don’t like me!”

“I can’t,” he conceded. Then he smiled shyly and looked away for a second. When he met my gaze again his eyes were still twinkling.

After that issue cleared up I returned to my initial point. “Sometimes a man who likes me will tell me whatever he thinks I want to hear. I did not want to tell you about Jesus because I did not want you to make a decision based on your feelings toward me.”

My latte vanished within the first fifteen minutes of our conversation. But we sat and talked for over an hour. Our discussion ranged from church and salvation, to drinking and smoking, to hunting and motorcycles, to marriage and past experiences, to why bad things happen if God is merciful, and back to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m sure I’ve skipped a few things as well.  All in all, I enjoyed the time spent together immensely.

Which leads to my next dilemma. What do I do in the future? Now that I have shared the gospel with this man, Operation Flirt to Convert is complete. He knows all that he needs to know in order to make a decision. If I move further I will cross the line into Missionary Dating. I kind of wish that I had hated the entire Coffee Encounter. But I didn’t. I loved every minute of our friendly debate and humorous banter. The more serious aspects of our conversation also intrigued me. His point of view, even where it differed from mine, was very interesting. I almost hoped he would make me angry or disgust me. Then I would not have to contemplate a next step. I would simply walk away.

As it stands, I’m not sure how to proceed. He assures me that he will come to my church sometime under the condition that I sit with him. He does not want to sit alone like an outcast in an unfamiliar place. I understand that. Unfortunately, now that he knows about Jesus, I do not feel such a strong desire for him to attend my church. Now that the Good News has reached him, I worry about the trivial things that escaped my imagination previously.

Suddenly I am extremely aware of how potentially awkward I may feel while I introduce this man, whom I have no clear relationship with, to the other attendees at my small church. He is not my boyfriend, not my husband, not my brother, cousin, uncle, or any other kind of kin. He is not a friend visiting from out of town. He is not close friends with someone that I know. In all reality he is a random stranger whom I’ve met a handful of times and have no reason to still be connected to – except because he likes me and I want him to meet Jesus.

Sitting across from a table, sipping coffee wasn’t so bad. Sitting beside him in a pew sounds terrifying. What will I do if he slides his arm behind me across the back of the pew? Exactly how close must we sit together? Does “Bible’s width apart” apply? If so, where might I find a bigger Bible? Instead, might I be able to borrow one of my pastor’s kids to sit between us? Or will that cause us to look like a family?

GAAAHHHHHHH!!! When did this all become so complicated? Note to self: Cats are so much easier than men. Let’s skip Flirt to Convert next time the opportunity arises.

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4 responses »

  1. Pingback: motorcycles: A Coffee Encounter | Helmet Hair Motorcycle News

  2. I want to add the comments I got on Facebook for this post to the blog. I’m not sure if the people who commented wanted to be named on here… so I will leave them both anonymous. But I really wanted their opinions to be voiced. I especially liked the analogy about Esther. So the next two comments are from a couple of my FB friends. 🙂

  3. You are so funny, Sarah. And I have missed reading your writing. And this “blog” is getting so interesting – downright suspenseful. This guy might even be “the one” God has intended for you all along. To back up, I agree with you about the “flirt to convert” if you apply your definition to it. God used Esther’s beauty and grace to place her in the right place at the right time to save her people. Why would that not still apply today? As to dating – you already know that you can never date someone “conditionally” because that may change their mind and their behavior, but never their heart. There is a saying that men marry with the hope that a woman will never change, while a woman marries with a huge list of things that she hopes to change in her spouse. As Christians, we do want to be sure that we are evenly yoked, but if we can accomplish that in the course of a dating relationship, I don’t see anything wrong in that as long as, as you have said, someone is professing their faith for the right reasons – not to win your heart. Why don’t you continue this “friendship” keeping an eye on his true heart toward God. Don’t worry what people will think if you attend church together. Introduce him as a guest you’ve invited to church – that should keep things in perspective for him, too, and should keep him on his best behavior. Most of all pray for him.

  4. If other church members read your blog there will be no need for an introduction, as you are quite specific. My next question is, does he read your blog or is there a potential for him to be a FB friend? I love that you honestly pour your heart and mind out on this blog site. Your writing has improved, too.

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