When I was young my sister was very, very ill. Even though both my parents were college educated and had good jobs, we had no money because all of our money went into keeping my sister alive. I wore homemade or hand-me-down dresses. I had been raised to love Christ. Taught that God loved everyone. Taught that God didn't care about your bank book. There was a large baptist church near us. It was located half-way between my house and my Dad's mother's house. On Sunday mornings I would go to church, and after church head to my grandmother's house where she would ask me what I learned in Sunday School. The children's choir was going to sing. I was so excited. I got there and one of the directors put me on the front row, another moved me to the back. The first moved me forward, the other moved me back. Finally, the one who moved me forward asked "why do you keep moving her to the back?" The second woman said, "Look at that dress! It looks like it came from Good Will." They then stood there, gossiping about my family. All manner of things, from the theory that my father was probably a drunkard to what a shame it was those kind of people were allowed in the church. (The truth is, my father was the grandson of a Minister, and had studied the ministry himself before WW-II sent him to war.) I slipped out of the choir loft and hid in the playground behind the church. I was angry, hurt, and bitter. I felt like I'd been lied to by my parents and grandparents. Christ didn't love you if you were poor. So the next Sunday I had made up my mind, I was NOT going to church. I knew my parents would never stand for that though. So I got dressed, and told them I was grown up and wanted to find my OWN way to class. I darted up the stairs, and right out the back stairs. Spent the Sunday School and Service swinging on the playground swing. Well, the Pastor's study was right next to that playground, and after a few Sundays of watching me, he came out and asked me if I wanted to come into the church and learn about Christ. I looked that dear man of God in the face and said, "No. I don't like liars, and they are all liars and they hate my Daddy, and they don't care and I don't care what Granny says, all that talk about Jesus loving everyone is just a lie." Dr. Prince got down on his knees in front of that swing with tears running down his face, and hugged me to him and said, "Oh honey, no. No, what your grandmother told you is the truth. Jesus does love everyone, especially your Daddy. It is just that sometimes people who talk about Jesus don't ACT like Jesus." He picked me up and held me and talked to me a long time about Jesus, and asked me about my father and my family. Then he coaxed me into the church and took me to a Sunday School class that was for children a bit older than me, telling the teacher that he wanted me in that class because I really needed in a class where people knew how much Jesus loves everyone. A few days later he sent people from the church to see if my parents or my sister needed anything. He sent people to my grandmother and grandfather to see if THEY needed anything. He would talk to me about the love of Christ, and he talked to the church at large about it. Within a month this dear man lead me to Christ. I have been working for approximately a year with a young man to lead him to Christ. He was born into a Jewish Family, but his mother converted to Christ and started bringing him to a Baptist Church when he was young. When I met him he was openly hostile toward Christianity, and when I heard his story, I understood why. He was mocked and taunted at his Baptist church. His grandparents were bad mouthed when people learned they were Jewish. His family had a tremendous financial need at the time, but the church, based on things said to his family, took the attitude of "you probably deserve to starve." There was hate everywhere. Eventually, his mother stopped trying to attend church. When I began to talk to this young man, I explained to him that Christ was not about hate. I showed him the words of Christ in the bible by reading to him from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I asked him to tell me honestly, if his issues were with Christ or if they were with Christians. Eventually he told me that only a fool would not agree with Christ, and that maybe not all Christians were bad either. He told me he was willing to attend church again, and asked me what denomination I was. I told him I am Baptist - and he stopped talking to me for a week. Eventually he came back to me and said, "I don't think I can do this. I don't think I can trust a Baptist. I've never known a Baptist that wasn't as hateful as a Nazi. They frighten me." I asked him if he thought we were hateful because we don't pretend sin is not sin. He said, "No, it isn't that. You don't understand. You can ~feel~ the hate they have if you aren't raised in their church." I'm not a witness for the Baptist Church, I'm a witness for Christ, so I focus on that. The man is now reading his bible again, asking questions about Christ, even considering a church home. My own son came to me a few years ago. We had been members of a Baptist church whose minister is very respected, and is a wonderful loving man of God. My son asked if we could change churches. It stunned me. I asked him why. He said, "The people at Sunday School are just so hateful, Mom. If someone doesn't know the books of the bible in order they make fun of them. If someone doesn't know a bible story, they make fun of them. I don't like to talk in class, so they claim I am not a Christian because I don't answer the questions unless they point to me." My daughter, over hearing this conversation, said, "Its true Mom. They were the same way when I was a member of the youth group. All they did was talk about other people, and make fun of people if they weren't raised on Broadman Hymn and Scoffield Press." There was a young woman in our city. Many, many Baptists worked a long time to help this young lady come to Christ. She did come to Christ, and she was baptised. She wasn't a wild girl. Didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't curse, didn't wear provacative clothing. She listened to contemporary music. People approached her, telling her that listening to contemproary music was a sin, others started spreading gossip about her, they treated her hatefully. She dropped out of church. One young person I have witnessed to for a long time is hispanic. I thought they were Roman Catholic. They seemed to know a lot of the bible, but they wanted nothing to do with church and often talked about how hateful the people were, how cruel they were, especially to children of divorced parents. It turns out this young person was raised in a Baptist Church, and the hate which turned them away from the fellowship of Christians, was in a Baptist Church. Do you remember when YOU were unsaved? Do you remember when YOU were a new Christian? How would you have felt if people preaching love showed nothing but hate? We CAN show love without backing down on God's word. We don't have to pretend sin is right to show love. We don't have to show hate to say sin is wrong. Why do we rush to gossip and hate and try to use God's word to justify turning people from Christ?