I think I finally figured out what happened with the friendship with a very good friend of mine. In my best effort to not offend him, I really offended him. I was so worried about telling him that he would go to hell, that I described hell as a separation from God. In essence, I really offended him by presenting a completely unreasonable God who would send an otherwise good person to hell simply because he didn't claim the name of Jesus. Ironically, this actually offended him more.
He had been my friend for many years, and, like most of my high school friends, is a Jewish atheist. His judaism was more cultural than religious. I guess, looking back on my youth, I could have been considered a Christian atheist by that understanding. I identified myself as a Christian, but that certainly had nothing to do with actually living by God's word. During my early twenties, I toured around with the Grateful Dead, worked at the Rennaisance Faire, stayed out all night in Hollywood, and did generally anything else my pleasure seeking whims told me to do. This friend was with me for much of this, and probably knew me better than most people. I remember my father telling me about his sense of morality before becoming a Christian. He considered himself a good person because he had never actually killed anyone. I had a line as well, that as long as I was not crossing it, I was still a good person. I'm sure my line was way on this side of murder, but I don't remember what it was, as I changed it all the time to suit my behavior.
When I decided to become a Christian during this period of my life, I was much more of an intellectual Christian. I read the Bible and many books on apologetics and I could put up a strong argument for the existance of God. I considered myself pretty smart and, looking back, probably became a believer simply to add to my own accomplishments. I had some more ammo for me to be a mental bully. Looking at my behavior, I certainly had not repented, or really exhibited anything resembling the fruit of the spirit.
After this, I got married and started a family. I moved to the Valley, basically of suburb of Los Angeles. It was a long process, but daily reading the bible, I was eventually brought to a place of repentance and true faith in the Savior. I was still very much interested in sharing my faith with others, especially friends from my former life.
Recently I saw this friend at a birthday party for a mutual friend. Going back to a Hollywood party, I felt really out of place. I had turned into a family man, and here I was in the middle of a bunch of thirty-somethings still pretending they were twenty one. I was relieved to find someone I knew really well and sat down with him. I was actually excited to catch up with him and share what has been going on in my life.
Inevitably, the conversation turned toward God. His friend told me that he tried to believe in God, but could find no proof. Great, this was my arena now. I went into a diatribe about the many proofs for God and the Bible's accuracy: manuscript evidence, prophecy, archaology. He didn't accept any of it. And, then said that anyone who actually believes in God must be an idiot.
My friend said he could not believe a loving God would send someone to hell. I told him that if he spent his whole life avoiding God, then God would not force him into heaven for eternity. He would spend his eternity separated from God. He said, "That is hell, right?" Well, yes. I tried desperately to soften the reality of hell. I tried to make it sound like this loving, merciful God of mine wouldn't really be bad for sending a non-believer to hell. He said that he couldn't be more offended. If his mother, the nicest person in the world, would be sent to hell, and Dru Morgan, the person that he knew, would get to go to heaven, then there was absolutely no justice and he wanted no part of that God.
The idea that a God would take otherwise pretty good people and arbitrarily banish them to eternal punishment based on some silly criteria such as reciting a prayer to Jesus was completely abhorrent to him. And, as I've learned, should be completely abhorrent to you.