I once asked a Jewish friend to forgive the church and me for [how the church has sometimes hurt] Jews in the name of Christ. I waited for him to tell me to get lost or, maybe, to forgive me. Instead, he started weeping. I had no idea why and asked him. "Steve," he said, "I didn't hear a 'kicker' in your remarks. Often people will say something like what you said to me but there is always a kicker. You guys want me to receive Jesus, get saved, or to ask for forgiveness for what 'we' did to Jesus. I waited for the kicker and there wasn't one. Thank you."
That conversation is one I've thought about a lot. One of the most tragic things about the church is that we have become, as it were, a "church of kickers." It's the "Of course God loves you … but don't let it go to your head," "God will forgive you … but don't do it again," "God's your loving Father … but don't forget about the discipline," or "God loves you … but that should make a better person." I can't tell you the number of times I've brought up Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, his love and forgiveness given to her (John 8:1-11), and people will bring in the kicker: "Yeah, but don't forget that Jesus told her to 'sin no more."' It's not that there isn't some truth in those statements. But they sometimes make God's love and forgiveness so conditional that, frankly, I can't deal with it. What was meant as good news very quickly becomes bad news because of the kicker.
Steve Brown, Hidden Agendas (New Growth Press, 2016), page 68