Today's interview is with Sophia White, author of Jesus is for Everybody. We will have a guest post and a review of her book later in the month, but for now, let's get to know her a little!
Jennifer Walker: What inspired you to write "Jesus is for Everybody"? How did it come about?
Sophia White: I was inspired to write this book to explain the simplicity of Christ to everyone, especially new believers. Some people accept faith and then find it hard to sustain based on various contradictions demonstrated by organized religion. Through illustrations and analogies, I want to help people comprehend the consistency of God's message and be able to conclude for one's self that the scriptural recordings are more a matter of fact than individual interpretation. My faith has always been based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but as life progressed I started to intellectually comprehend our connection with God. It's obvious that the world is governed by a force more dominant than basic behavior and establishing separate denominations is a blatant contradiction to faith in Jesus Christ. Believers are considered member of one body and for some strange reason, the church has separated itself, but the time has come to open up the dialogue and discuss the truth according to the gospels.
Writing this book was never a long term goal. The thought gradually became a reality as did the foundation for my belief in Jesus. On many occasions, I was encouraged by friends to write, but it never dawned upon me what I could offer. Then one day I began to focus on how people are suffering due to a basic lack of knowledge about God and our origin. It is impossible to have a relationship with God without communication, and Jesus is the facilitator. Some believers contribute to religious organizations that blatantly disregard the teaching of Jesus Christ. The scriptures explain clearly what's going on today and I'm motivated to help people comprehend it more easily. The book is written to allow a person to make a more informed decision about faith in God and what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.
Some believers feel isolated in ministry as most churches are now primarily focused on the business which is more about fund raising instead of fellowship for God. Many Pastors practice various techniques including joking, funny stories, and demonstrations all designed to keep the congregation engaged. Church reputations are now based on good preaching and the music ministry. Throughout the sermon, congregations laugh and clap with the same emotions illustrated during secular events. The whole concept saddens me. In some churches, tithes and offerings are synonymous to a cover charge for admission.
I once viewed church as a refreshing get away and a chance to be surrounded by a different kind of people, but it's not that way anymore. After being a member of so many churches and a part of various discussions, it became obvious that some believers have derived faith from bits and pieces of text. Many go to church for mere status. By including the scriptural references by topic, I am hoping to help build an understanding of the basics.
Jennifer Walker: You say this book is not about religion, but about life. What do you mean by that?
Sophia White: When I make the statement "This book is about life and not religion," my intention is to set precedence about the content of the book as a way of life instead of a set of religious principles. Jesus came to deliver us from the burdens of life and show humanity the definition of righteousness in light of our flesh limitations. This book is about understanding how to build a personal relationship with God based on the teachings of Jesus Christ associated with common knowledge. The bible explains how the wisdom of man is foolishness in God's eyes, and I believe God chose me to teach people how to comprehend this in everyday terms. God is truth and truth is God. My life has been filled with varying difficulties to allow me to absorb the basic knowledge of scripture as it relates to real life struggles.
This is not about me or my commentary at the beginning of each chapter. This is about removing the confusion derived from the representation of churches today. Even mature believers have a difficult time understanding God based on what is being taught so this book contains a listing of scriptures organized for the reader to make an informed decision in conjunction to listening to a religious leaders. I've witnessed ministers preach an hour and only use two or three verses of scripture. Mega churches accumulate members and present the same information from the same book over and over again. How long until believers start to feel empty and unfulfilled? In some cases, the interpretation is used solely for selfish gain. God doesn't need our money. He knows how to orchestrate His needs on earth without our permission. My goal is to provide insight into the way of life that leads to the Kingdom of God as illustrated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ after organized religion crucified Him. Many church leaders have become no more than motivational speaker. This book will place the sacrifice of Jesus Christ into its proper perspective.
When God sent His son to show us how things are and will be to come, humanity reacted as expected. God sacrificed His son to show us our natural state, which should lead to remorse and repentance. The basic nature of humanity is self preservation, the first law of nature. God wants us to repent of our ways by seeing that our nature rejected His son when He lived among us. His death was the ultimate sacrifice for believers. It is sad to know that human hands have the will to crucify our creator instead of embracing His teachings.
Our relationship with God is based in our acknowledgement of how Jesus was born to pay the ultimate price for our sins. I find the Holy Trinity as the spiritual basis for connecting the dots intellectually. God revealed His power to humanity through His son our Lord and Savior. After the Resurrection, Jesus left us a Comforter; the Holy Spirit empowered to guide us from the heavenly realm. Our existence is described in the Revelation of God's plan unfolding. We are taught that Jesus is the word made man and the definition of the word is communication with God. Jesus is the man in which those words were given life. When we pray to God, we pray in the name of Jesus since He is our representative.
Jennifer Walker: What do you think this book has to offer for people who are either not particularly religious or who are uncomfortable with organized religion?
Sophia White: My primary goal is to help those who are not religious or somewhat uncomfortable with organized religion. Christianity was intended to be a subculture within the everyday secular world. God did not send His son to teach humanity about religion. Jesus came to fulfill religious prophesy. He came to separate the rituals of religious tradition from matters of the heart. This allows believers to embrace a more abundant life than what the world offers.
Although I grew up in the church, I have relocated several times for my profession and it has been extremely hard to find a comfortable place to fellowship. Over the years, I have moved from one congregation to another only to realize that most are fundamentally the same. As time went on, I realized that the bible teaches ways that are not practiced by the mere dedication to a particular church. The church is in the people. As individuals, we are the church. The early church came together as one. They were supportive to one another in all walks of life. As I've recently drifted from visiting one church to another, my heart is aching about what I'm witnessing firsthand.
God has designed a path for believers to develop an ongoing relationship with Him that promises abundant life. We must first embrace ourselves to accept the truth about our nature. In short, humanity crucified of our Lord. God showed us that our human behavior will naturally reject His word and in the end, we actually crucified God's word in the form of Jesus with human hands. That act establishes acceptance of the need for humanity to reconcile with God. The ultimate sacrifice is that God sent His son to communicate with us in the flesh and establish a final covenant with those who truly want to know Him. The relationship between God and humanity existed from the beginning of time, and history documents the difficulties we have experienced over the years. Our only means of security is placing our trust in God driven the guidance of our Lord and Savior.
Based on the need to establish separate denominations, Christians as a whole are not representing Christ anymore. Non believer are critical of Christians for obvious reasons. This is not about attending church. Faith in Jesus Christ is about a whole new way of life. Organized religion was the basis for His crucifixion. The formula Jesus taught does not work with enormous spending budgets and elaborate operating expenses. Building massive structures to house fancy furnishing in the name of God has no correlation with faith in Jesus Christ. When God sent His son to teach us who we are and our need to repent, it was to give everyone an opportunity to assess our current state and be delivered from our sins.
Jennifer Walker: What is your background--schooling, experience, etc--that qualifies you to write Jesus is for Everybody?
Sophia White: I graduated from the University of Kentucky and majored in Business Education. Since 1985, I've experienced a series of professional relocations that eventually landed me in Washington DC. I have been able to meet many fascinating people and exchanging ideas has been the highlight of my life. The accounting aspect of my job has taught me to seek an intellectual understanding for everything, including spiritual forces. Over the years, God gave me a mission to share my awareness.
I was around 25 when starting my personal relationship with God. I began a constant prayer life of getting down on my knees each and every day. I do it whether I feel good or not. No matter the circumstances, I will find a private place to bow down and pray. Although I was baptized and attended church very young, at that time I only knew God through the teachings of others. My faith has always been based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but as life progressed I started to intellectually comprehend our connection with God. He has allowed me to persevere through many difficult struggles, so it is a privilege to share my personal relationship journey.
I am not a bible scholar nor did I study theology. I am just a strong believer in Christ who has been given an analogy of His word to share with those who want know more. For a long time, I have testified to His word with boldness regardless of the consequences. My faith in Jesus started when I was baptized at age nine and taught to believe that God sent His only son into the world to save us from our sins. Of course I had no idea what that really meant, but something inside kept me believing and actively participating in church activities. It was fun.
Early in life I was determined to make a difference so I never hesitate to confront the power structure regarding situations of fairness, especially work place inequality. As time went on, it became obvious that the world is governed by a force more dominant than basic behavior. In the meantime, I always prayed to God through Jesus for the insight to understand His word. Many times I would ask God for wisdom in the Spirit and to be mounted up on wings like an eagle to soar above this world. After years of praying for these gifts, through all of my highs and lows, God slowly began revealing basic truths to me.
I am not a professional writer. I write management reports and document work papers required to conduct control assessments for audit purposes. As a believer, I have a primary mission to introduce Christ to the world. We should be ready to express our ministry of salvation more clearly. I pray that this book brings much insight and establish a stronger bond of togetherness. As many already know, God's message is fact and not left to human opinion and we should discontinue blaming one another for acts performed by religious groups in the past. The content of this material is not meant to be complicated or complex. The chapters are entitled using basic concepts we associate with life. The detailed scriptures are formatted to bring life to individual experiences. People are becoming more and more intense about grounding their life with something worthwhile, and I am excited about the opportunity to explain the simple terms in which God continues to work within our daily lives.
The world has taught me to think in terms of logic, which is why I desire to help people see clearly how Jesus was sent by God to save everyone. Since my entire adult life has been focused on servicing corporations, I am deeply honored to have permission to minister for Jesus in this way. In preparation for the manuscript, God gave me extensive time to re-read the scriptures and organize them in a manner that would express distinction. Once the reader has completed the book, he/she will be much better equipped to decide whether they believe in Jesus as the son of God or not.
Jennifer Walker: Did you learn anything or experience anything remarkable during the writing of this book?
Sophia White: While writing this book, I learned how God worked in every aspect of my daily life to make circumstances come together right in the nick of time.
There were thoughts that came to my mind out of nowhere and no matter how hard I tried to procrastinate and say to myself, I'll write it down later, there was an unforeseen force that would encourage me to get up right then and get my thoughts on paper. By the time I was performing my second round of edits, I decided that I would not submit the revisions until I felt there were no more thoughts pushing me to write them down.
Over the past few years, my life has been evolving. As I worked on the manuscript, I was also soliciting new clients for my independent consulting business. No matter how grim the situation seemed, God would always send a new client in the nick of time while allowing me enough time for freedom of thought.
When I wrote the chapter on family, I questioned many single Christians about ideas on sex before marriage. What I concluded is that many Christians think in the same manner as the secular community about approaching relationships. I was stunned at how many single Christians are involved with sexual intercourse on a frequent basis outside of marriage. Most were extremely defensive and did not appear to understand how the implications of sex outside of marriage are much bigger than what lies on the surface.
During the period in which I wrote the book, I felt that the Holy Spirit was allowing me to see how the core of civilization is being plagued with sexual promiscuity therefore I concluded that a woman's right to choose ends when she decides to participate in sexual intercourse, and as a result, abortions belong in family court. Other than physical force, people have the power to accept or reject sexual advances. This is not about two consenting adults. Once a child is conceived the process should be viewed as a family matter at large. I began to understand how abortions are more so a medical decision that should be evaluated and approved by family members of the unborn child. This ensures his/her interest is thoroughly considered.
Instead of viewing sexual relations with the sensitivity in which it was designed, some minds have become confused and consumed with perversion without recognizing the byproduct related to our culture as a whole. Since writing this book, God has shown me that women are the core of these issues whether associated with companionship or developing a healthy mindset in children.
God also showed me how so many Christians are focusing on homosexuality as the primary sexual sin when in fact sexual sin is sexual sin no matter what genders are involved. What about adultery and fornication? Most Christians are not willing to talk about that too much. It is easier to emphasize the sexual concerns associated with a minority instead of the vast majority. While writing this book, one morning I woke up and realized that a person's sex is related to their gender not an act. This is the bottom line to understanding sexual intercourse overall. We cannot choose our sex organs given at birth, but we can choose how or whether we use them. Utilizing our sexual organs for sexual pleasure is not a prerequisite to life. Sexual feelings are a mere byproduct that leads to sexual preferences.
While writing this book, I started to witness how several children are in serious jeopardy since sexual freedom is being taken out of context. As I sought new learning, I began to understand how life starts off a bit awkward for little boys and girls to interact. In early childhood, he/she would much rather remain in their comfort zone which includes those of the same sex. This is why boys can better identify with boys and girls can better identify with girls. For that reason alone, some children are choosing to experience same sex relationships in their early years. Children are easily confused when their understanding of sex is not well grounded. Some of these children are merely experimenting, which can result in a major life altering event. A child's mind cannot effectively process such choices until their experiences dictate an overall understanding. God has shown me that no matter how we choose to mate or build a family, we are unable to circumvent His human design.
Jennifer Walker: How did you come up with the format for the book?
Sophia White: The format of this book is designed to make it usable as a biblical reference tool. Although I've written a commentary at the beginning of each chapter, it is framed to invoke the thought process of why we believe in God and the basis for that belief. The volume of scriptures should remove any doubt or questions about inconsistencies.
The Introduction is written to explain the purpose of the book and why I believe God groomed me to write it. For new believers and people unfamiliar with the Bible, I wanted to layout a simple background and information for future use. The Introduction also includes a reference to a magnificent website which contains the bible in many translations and languages. Deciding on the sections and associated chapters was finalized over an extended period of time. Initially I began to determine which categories would best align with teaching life according to scripture. Each morning I would wake up with another idea on how best to simplify the message until I felt comfortable with the final version.
The first section is about God which lays the framework for understanding a higher power. The Holy Trinity defines God as three distinct entities: the father, son and spirit. This section also includes scriptures regarding Heaven to provide a vision of where the Bible indicates God resides. The second section is about faith. I break down the basis for faith as our belief system and desire to know God. The chapters on prayer and love define how we practice faith in God according to the teachings of Jesus. The third section is about church which allows a deeper understanding of ministry according to the scriptures verses what we witness in television evangelism. Jesus taught specific guidance for ministry and giving is the selfless act designed to demonstrate our concern for one another. The fourth section on the world illustrates how humanity is governed. Once we understand governance as the definition of life, we can better under the power of God's intervention. What we see on the surface doesn't explain how life transpires. We are given hope through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Governance, Family, ways and money are primary components used to survive. Governance breaks down the different levels of authority, family is the origin of individuals and our ways demonstrate what we believe. In governance I also discuss the implications of abortions and other sensitive issues facing believers today. Money is described as our sophisticated bartering system designed to promote survival conducive to functioning in a civilized society. The fifth section on Wisdom explains why the bible is our source of insight on matters of origin and future expectations. Knowledge in where wisdom is attained. True wisdom comes from God. The bible explains that the wisdom of man is foolish in God's eyes. Understanding God starts with the knowledge of His existence and faith comes by hearing, not by reading. When a person hears the word of God, his/her wisdom to attain faith is empowered by God and God alone. The chapter about the Old Testament is to bridge a gap between biblical law and the teachings of Jesus. The chapter on last days is solely about recognizing the signs of our time and clearly explains the situations we face today with churches, relationships, children, sin and a host of others.
I conclude by providing insight on how to get to know God through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I pray deeply that the truth illustrated will challenge religious leaders to align their mission with the teaching of Jesus associated with one body in Christ. The conclusion contains simple guidance in accepting Jesus without anyone else involved. By the end of the book, the reader will be able to determine whether to believe Jesus was indeed born and crucified as our pathway to building a relationship with God.
The references are listed in the appendix to allow the reader to verify the exact biblical location. The appendix also contains a description of each book of the New Testament to explain its origin and suspected author.
Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?
Sophia White: Discussing this book with my family and friends is difficult.
The funny part is that most Christians I know are not interested in discussing topics surrounding the common sense aspects of Jesus, but instead, change the topic to reiterate points they are most comfortable with. I find it rather peculiar that many Christians have not embraced the true teachings of Christ, but rather nitpick certain behaviors as more sinful than others which tend to emphasize their own subjective point of view.
My mom attends Church on a regular basis and I've attempted to discuss my book with her only to receive minimal interaction and response. I get the impression that the reigns are so tight within the Christian community that some refuse to think outside of organized religion. My mother is one of those people. At one time, my mom and I shared a special connection in fellowship, but when I began introducing certain scriptures to gain clarity, our relationship started to dwindle. At some point, I decided to cease burdening her with my ideas and now the content of our conversations are kept within limits. It has been extremely hard to accept, but no matter what, she is still my mother.
Due to various circumstances, I have not spoken to other family members since writing the book.
Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about you. What is your day job? Do you have any hobbies? Pets?
Sophia White: I am a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) with over 20 years experience managing and conducting audits and consulting reviews for clients in compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley Act, the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) and the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Tread way Commission (COSO). Professional expertise includes business process reviews, internal operational audits, information technology (IT) audits, accounting financial statement integrated audits, and SAS70 Type I/II. I establish a company-wide approach to best practices, assist with implementing key control activities, and prescribe mechanisms to help identify and prevent compromise of policies and the misuse of resources by defining methods to protect the reputation of the company and provide insight for compliance to satisfy legal and ethical responsibilities.
I spend most of my free time at the fitness center. Depending on the day, the time allocation will vary. My goal is to work out at least four times a week, but it's not always possible.
I am sincere and supportive. When I really care for someone, there is nothing anyone can say about that person that will make the least bit of difference. I love to cook, read and spend time talking with my friends. I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies. Specifically, I spend most of my time alone but I also love being with people.
The name "Sophia" is derived from σοφία, the Greek word for wisdom. I have made it my goal to share the divine wisdom and inspiration God provides me with the entire world to revitalize the Christian community in the love and mercy of God. Although Sophia is my given name, Sophia is also "a universal figure, representing wisdom, femininity, motherhood and sexuality" as indicated by Dr. Suzanne Schaup in her book entitled "Sophia" written especially for women with a Christian background, interested in expanding our quest for spiritual wholeness. If my teachings represent a mere fraction of "Sophia" it can only be contributed to the grace of an Almighty God.
Jennifer Walker: What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your life so far?
Sophia White: My greatest accomplishment so far is having a comfortable and healthy life at age 47. Considering everything I've experienced, I am blessed to still be here.
My greatest worldly accomplishment was obtaining a college degree from the University of Kentucky which laid the groundwork to live and travel various places throughout my professional career. The combination of my life experiences and educational preparation has afforded me a skill set to achieve my desired accomplishment. My overall objective is to work for God. As time goes on my vision continues to grow. I imagine my greatest accomplishment will be to help awaken those who need to know God and stop practicing church based on status quo.
Jennifer Walker: If you could meet any person, living or dead, for lunch, who would it be?
Sophia White: If I could meet any person, living or dead, for lunch it would be our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He challenged the approach of religious leaders and offered His life as a ransom to save everyone as a means to a more abundant life. His demonstrated the ultimate act of love. Religion is our human desire to worship a higher power, the Creator, the origin of our existence. Jesus spoke with clarity and captivated the attention of truth seekers. In the end, His followers fled due to legal consequences.
I would love to meet someone focused on persuading believers to disband Christian denominations and focus on a means of building a connection with all members of the body of Christ. Other than that, it would be nice to have lunch with anyone who loves God and truly love their neighbor like they love themselves. At the moment, I don't know anyone like that.