It all started with a phone call to a friend. This friend and I have helped each other through a lot of junk, each taking turns being the needy one, and it was my turn. She can usually hear it in my voice before I have to explain myself. I imagine her on the other end pouring a cup of coffee and kicking up her feet, because she knows it will be a long haul.

Our conversation covered a large gamut of things—the amazing weekend I had at the IF:Gathering, our children, and the Super Bowl (Yes, my attention span resembles that of a 3rd grade boy). Speaking about one of the athletes, I commented that I was glad the spotlight wasn’t on me during some of my worst moments, which led to a discussion about what that would look like in the church and why so many avoid church like the plague.

We went on to talk about people who have never stepped foot in a church and those who have been burned by the church, which we both have experienced. Then my friend said it.

“How many people do you think we are winning over to Christianity by boycotting and shoving condemning signs in their faces?”

She went on to tell me about how she feels led to go to an abortion clinic and just be there. Be there to support a woman as she faces a weighty decision like ending another’s life. But my friend wouldn’t be there to judge; she would just be there for support, even if the woman decided to go through with it. She would be there after the fact for weeks or months, maybe even years, not once forcing her opinion on this woman. Just showing her grace and love.

And then one day, when the woman finally had the courage to ask her why, she would respond.

“Because that’s what Jesus would do.”

This conversation had me reeling, as I imagined all of the people who are turned off by “well meaning” Christians every day! We’ve all seen it, and most of us may have unknowingly done it at some point in our lives, but it has to stop! We can’t speak of a God of grace and love while we condemn. We can’t woo the world into a relationship with Christ through shame.

Where do you think Jesus would be in that scenario? Would he be outside with the group of people shaming the woman as she walked in? Read the Bible and remind yourself that he ate with the sinners and tax collectors!

Shame and condemnation describe the language of Satan. Repentance and redemption are the language of Christ. Whose side are you on anyway?

Please, for anyone out there who feels the need to hold a sign pointed at someone’s sin, at least take the cross of your neck first. The cross symbolizes the resurrection, new life, grace, forgiveness, the washing of our sins…their sin, my sin, your sin! God did not send his one and only son so that whoever believes in him, and fits in the little box with a pretty little bow, will be saved. Read John 3:16, and read it again, and then again. Continue to read it until you realize that you are a hot mess just like the rest of us!