Back in January, I wrote a post about the three phrases Christians should quit relying on.
It’s been interesting to read the comments and see how people respond to the rote and sometimes careless things we say.
Here are some more Christianese comments I’d be happy not to hear again.
1. “God showed up!”
There are moments in church services where everyone seems to be having a collective spiritual experience. When it’s discussed later, someone inevitably says something like, “Man, God really showed up.”
Did he sleep in on those other mornings? God shows up seems to be a statement about an emotional experience we’ve had. I don’t want to diminish the value of those experiences; sometimes they’re important. I would hate to think he’s only “showed up” when I’m having some sort of religious experience.
Every time you hear the phrase “God showed up,” you can pretty safely exchange the word “God” for “we” or “I.” Because I think we’re the ones showing up in those moments—not him.
We’re the ones who need to have our perspective tweaked to experience the immediacy of God.
2. “Don’t worry. God’s timing is always perfect.”
This is one of those band-aid statements made to someone going through a trial or praying for something that hasn’t materialized yet. It’s intended to provide comfort with the fact that God always comes through right on time—no matter how it looks to us.
Tell that to Lazarus.
In John 11, Jesus hears that his buddy, Lazarus, is sick. He intentionally waits two more days before heading to Bethany to be with Lazarus and his sisters. Because if he goes any earlier, Lazarus will still be alive when he arrives.
I don’t know what someone means when they talk about God’s perfect timing, but I tend to think that, for me, perfect timing is somewhere on the other side of me being dead. Lazarus’ sisters tend to agree (John 11:21,32).
As we know, God’s timing was perfect in this situation because he raised Lazarus from the dead and made an unmistakable display of his power. God’s perfect timing was for his glory and not Lazarus’ comfort. This is an entirely different thing. It adds a very scary undertone to what’s supposed to be an encouragement about God’s timing.
As it turns out, there’s a strong case that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead only to be murdered by the chief priests. In the tenth verse of chapter 10, John tells us that they started plotting to kill Lazarus because his life was really cramping their style.
It’s never corroborated, but I assume they succeeded. You’d think he’d be part of the New Testament story again. He would have been an awesome addition to the gang in Acts. It’s hard to dismiss Jesus’ significance when you’re being addressed by a guy everyone knows Jesus raised from the dead.
I assume John’s comment here is intended to give the background of a story his first-century readers already know. As if to say, “Hey, you know that legend you’ve heard about that guy Jesus raised from the dead? Well, here’s why he was killed.”
Think about that when someone is struggling not to have their home foreclosed on, and you glibly tell them, “Don’t worry, God’s timing is always perfect.” You might just be telling them, “He might wait until the bank takes it away. In fact, he might wait until you move all your stuff out and then magically give it back to you. Then it might burn down.”
Either way, life’s a little more complicated than our facile sayings communicate.
3. “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”
This one is supposed to communicate something profound about God’s sovereignty. I think it just makes him look like a bad roommate, and the reason my electricity bill is so high.
4. “Ask Jesus into your heart.”
In a culture so steeped in the romanticism of the “heart,” this just feels like a confusing way to talk about what it means to have a relationship with Christ.
Colloquially and culturally speaking, the “heart” is the seat of the emotions. It’s where my deepest passions come from—and my least trustworthy ones.
There’s a mystical aspect to my relationship with Christ. He does somehow take up residence inside of me. But to liken this amazing union to every three penny love song by tying it to the same romantic, idealized “heart” cheapens its permanence and value.
Besides, the “heart” is just the organ that we’re using right now to signify the emotive. passionate things that make up a human. In Jesus’ day, they used the bowels. Yeah, you heard me right. The center of human passion was the bowels.
Can you imagine asking Jesus into your bowels? I didn’t think so.
Have more christianese sayings you’re tired of? Tell me about them.