Here’s another sampling of a church sign that is paving the way for the gospel on the streets of America:

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As we begin 2008, here’s a warm message for all of non-church goers out there – this great church somewhere in middle America, has an important New Years’ message. “Turn or Burn. Happy New Year.” Does anyone see the problem here?! A condemning, hellfire message confronting the hearts driving by this oddly shaped building with an attached holiday greeting. I’m glad we have a church that is making a difference. (Note: this is not the Lowendesville in Greenwood County).

Many people know John 3:16. It is probably one of the most quoted verses of the Bible. But how many people know verse 17? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Many churches major in preaching a condemning message devoid of love. The reality of a hell is serious, but why would we ever callously make a statement about people’s eternal destination if we have been called to love every precious soul?

God himself said in Ezekiel 33:11, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” The entire attitude behind a “turn or burn” message is completely opposite of God’s heart. If he doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked, how could we who deserve death apart from his grace ever delight in one’s eternal separation from God?

It’s like the other statements I loathe to hear Christians callously say: “Well, you know where he’s going…they think it’s hot here…she’ll soon learn her lesson…” Joking or not, it’s horrible theology. It’s a horrible representation of Jesus’ love.

So, if you really want to show someone love and wish them a Happy New Year, how about not making light of eternity and show some real concern and compassion?

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.