The other day I was listening to the host of a Christian radio station as he interviewed a young woman. She was a brand new believer, and I could hear joyous enthusiasm bubbling up in her voice as she spoke of the profound changes happening inside. She was experiencing God and relating to him for the first time in her life.
Like a stranger in a foreign land, she struggled to find the appropriate words to express what was overflowing from her heart. The announcer asked, "So, you were born again?"
Hesitantly, she responded, "Um, yeah."
I thought to myself, This poor girl. If he keeps fumbling over the proper phraseology and asking until she says the right words, she may begin to doubt her salvation.
There was no doubt in my mind; she was overflowing with the Spirit's joy and newness of life in Christ. This exchange got me thinking about the exaggerated use of Christianese among Christians.
Are We Guilty of Cliché Abuse?Let's face it, we Christians are guilty as sin of cliché abuse. And so, I decided it was time to have some fun at our own expense by exploring the clichés that Christians say.
Clichés Christians SayChristians say, "I asked Jesus into my heart," "I was born again," or "I was saved," or else we probably were not.
Christians don't say hello, we "greet one another with a hug and a holy kiss."
When Christians say goodbye, we declare, "Have a Jesus filled day!"
To a complete stranger, a "good Christian" won't hesitate to announce, "Jesus loves you, and so do I!"
Whether affectionately or with pity, you may never be sure, Christians often say, "Bless your heart." (And that's pronounced with thick southern sweetness.)
Go ahead and say it again. You know you want to: "Bless your heart."
For grins or groans, now throw this in: "God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform." (But, you know, that's not in the Bible, right?)
When the pastor preaches a powerful message and the choir's songs are especially pleasing to the ear, Christians exclaim at the close of the service, "We had church!"
Wait just a minute. We don't say, "The pastor preached a powerful message." No, Christians say, "The pastor was Holy Ghost filled and the Word of the Lord was anointed."
Christians don't have good days, we "get the victory!" And a great day is a "mountain top experience." Can someone say amen?
Christians don't have bad days, either! No, we're "under attack from the devil, as Satan roams like a roaring lion to destroy us."
And, heaven forbid, Christians don't ever say, "Have a good day!" We say, "Have a blessed day."
Christians don't have parties, we "fellowship." And dinner parties are "pot blessings."
Christian don't get depressed; we have "a spirit of heaviness."
An enthusiastic Christian is "on fire for God!"
Christians don't have discussions, we "share."
Similarly, Christians don't gossip, we "share prayer requests."
And when a Christian does not know how to respond to someone who is hurting, we utter, "We'll, I'll be praying for you." After that comes, "God is in control." Next, yep, we say, "All things work together for good." Should I keep 'em coming? "If God closes a door, he'll open a window." (Um, chapter? verse?) And, another favorite: "God allows everything for a purpose."
Christians don't make decisions, we are "led by the Spirit."
Christians RSVP with phrases such as, "I'll be there if it's God's will," or "Lord willing and the creek don't rise."
When a Christian makes a mistake, we say, "I'm forgiven, not perfect."
Christians know that a really terrible lie is "belched from the pit of hell."
Christians don't insult or say rude things to a brother or sister in the Lord. No, we "speak the truth in love." And if someone should mistakenly feel judged or rebuked, we say, "Hey, I'm just keepin' it real."
If a Christian meets someone who is stressed or anxious, we know they simply need to "let go and let God."
And last but not least (← ugh, another cliché), Christians don't die, we "go home to the be with the Lord."
See Yourself Through the Eyes of AnotherTo my brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope I have not offended you. I pray you've understood that my tongue in cheek, not-so-subtly sarcastic tone was used for a purpose.
Sometimes there simply are no appropriate words, and we just need to listen, to be there with a quiet hug or a caring shoulder.
Why do we turn to empty, tired out phrases instead? Why do we have to have an answer or a formula? As followers of Christ, if we truly want to connect with people, we must be genuine and express ourselves with authenticity.
Many of the cliché examples I've mentioned are truths found in God's Word. Yet, if someone is hurting, that person's pain needs to be acknowledged. To see Jesus in us, people need to see that we are real and that we care.
So, fellow Christians, I hope you've enjoyed this bit of humor at our own expense. When I lived in Brazil, the Brazilian people taught me that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but they took it a step further. A favorite pastime and fine-tuned skill among the people I came to know as my Brazilian family was to invent skits to perform for honored guests. Inevitably, the drama included mimicking the honored person's mannerisms, humorously exaggerating their quirkiest traits and shortcomings. By the time the skit ended, everyone would come unglued with laughter.
One day I had the privilege of being an honored guest. The Brazilians taught me to enjoy laughing at myself. I could see the wisdom in this exercise, and I hope you do, too. It's truly amusing and quite freeing, if you give it a chance.