Earlier today, I received this message on Twitter:
“Really pastor? Last straw. Unnecessary. Unfollowing.”
This was from a woman that I don’t know whatsoever. I don’t follow her on Twitter, but for some reason she follows me. I’ve never even met this woman. But something that I wrote bothered her enough that she pulled out the “shame” card on me. She was responding to an article that I posted yesterday about a paralyzed man who whose dog chewed off one of his…well, you probably get the point. I wrote: “Best friend?! Ha.”
Was the article shocking? Yes. Worthy of an unfollow and shaming tactics? I don’t think so.
Sadly, it looks like she is a church-goer.
Church can be one of the most graceless places you could ever be and that sickens me. I’ve found far more grace from people who don’t claim the name of Jesus. How can that be?!
Church-goers seem to be more interested in monitoring what others put on Facebook and Twitter than they care to watch the hardening of their own hearts. Church is more often a place of condemnation than a place to gather and to get well. And that simply should never be. Why? Because Jesus died for us and offered us a new life free of shame and judgment.
Why then would someone who claims to follow Jesus offer anything other than raw, unadulterated, dripping, all-encompassing grace?
As a pastor, I strive to represent Jesus well. I try hard to love intensely. I try to forgive quickly. I try to be gracious. I know that I don’t do it was well as Jesus would, but even with that realization, I’m met with overflowing grace from the Creator of all things.
So what’s next? Where do we go from here? I’m disgusted in the moment by shaming and judgmental churches and people. But, I’ll get up and be awakened to the possibilities of how far grace and mercy can reach.
Imagine a church that is as welcoming as a bar. Dream of a place where everyone recognizes their own faults and shortcomings and no one has time to look for the problems in other people. Is there a place where we can all come together to encourage each other and where we seek to draw out the best in each other, first?
I want to be a part of a place like that. So, I’ll keep dreaming and pushing for it. Until then, I won’t be condemned by the voices of shame, and I hope that you won’t either.