Christianese 101

Because tone is difficult to relay in writing let me preface this with the understanding that this chapter is written partially “tongue in cheek” with a half smirk on my face for a majority of the time that I typed it.  Not that it doesn’t carry an element of truth, but it is written light-heartedly.  This is kind of my comic relief vent from my recent, more serious and vulnerable writings…Enjoy…and maybe learn a little…

“The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength, Brother”…

For all those who are “Bought by the blood of the lamb” or “Washed in the Blood”…For those who “Don’t drink from the fruit of the vine but are Partakers of the New Wine” and are “Born Again, Sanctified, Spirit Filled, Saints of God, and Drunk in the Holy Spirit”…For those who are “Totally Consumed, On Fire, Saved, Anointed and Appointed, Following their Calling, Rescuing the Lost from Satan’s Clutches, Having Fellowship together with other Believers and Soaking in the Spirit while inserting a Hallelujah or a Bless God in parts of the sentence where it makes no sense…”  Take a minute and think about what you are saying when you are talking to people…

Ah, the language that makes us “one of the group”… Learning to be a part of the culture by adopting the lingo and often the façade that accompanies it.  I’m not being critical, I promise!   I’m laughing as I type this!   I’m not here to bash Christians or the language that often accompanies our conversation (notice I said OUR)…I just want to make you think…

Maybe, like me, you grew up in church hearing all of these phrases and haven’t questioned them since you figured out what they meant when you were 8 years old…But keep in mind, a large majority of the world doesn’t really even know who Jesus is beyond a “Christmas Manger” concept.  Speaking this language with people who don’t understand it, alienates them…What’s more, most people who use these phrases often do it without considering the weight of what they are saying…As I said earlier, it becomes the cliché’/Christian thing to say…

“Brother Aaron, how are you doing?”

Well, honestly, I’m having a rough go this week…How are you?

“I’m overcoming by the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony, Hallelujah”

Really…?

“That’s right, God is Good all the time and all the time God is Good…Bless God”

Well, that’s true…

“Yessir and the Joy of the Lord is my strength”…

I’m…glad…I guess…(in my mind I’m wondering, “Is this person for real”… because the way it “feels” while we are conversing is as though I’m speaking through a cage at a talking parrot who has learned the proper response when I ask it a question…the conversation seems to lack any real conviction or sincerity)

Don’t misinterpret, I get the importance of confession.  I understand the aspect of using our words to confirm our faith especially when we are in a season of struggle.  I do not dispute the importance of “Confessing the Word”, “Praying the Word of God”, or “Calling those things that are not as though they are” according to scripture… I get it!  BUUUUUTTTT everybody doesn’t…

These learned responses often become the “mask” that Christians hide behind… It offers them the opportunity to “appear” to belong while in actuality they remain distant with conversation that portrays an illusion…

So, when someone doesn’t want people to know that they are hurting, they put on the front with words like, “I’m too blessed to be depressed”, when in reality their lives are falling apart, but they are not going to tell you that because they concern whether or not they will be viewed “less than” because they are hurting or perhaps they will be looked at as “Faithless” if they admit to struggling, or perhaps they just want to hide and pretend that they are something that they are not so that you don’t know any better…and we allow this in our churches…No, many times I think we ENCOURAGE it when everyone puts on the smile and is “too happy to be crappy”… Leaving those who are “not” to wonder if they are alone in this battle that they are in…

Now, let me add the balance here.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the “Too blessed to be depressed and too happy to be crappy line…” I use it myself and think it’s cute…I’m not criticizing the words or the people who use them…I’m only asking you to “think before you speak”…NONE of this “christianese” lingo is wrong per se’…In fact, in many cases I think it can even be “RIGHT” to use it…Particularly when what you are conveying is actually the right words to express what you feel… I only contend with the insincerity that evolves from the repetition of the programmed responses…

Every society and social group incorporates language that is specific to their environment.  Police officers have codes, business executives use words specific to their culture, restaurants use phrases that are specific to food and service, computer geeks have their own language that I question if they even understand, and Christians have theirs as well…It’s par for the course and there’s nothing wrong with it (within reason and balance).

The issue that I am addressing with “the church” today is actually two fold.  One, in dealing with the outsiders (and I use that term VERY loosely) ability to understand when we do not speak a language that is relevant to where they are… And two, the “sincerity” aspect of it.  When we use clichés, most of the time they lack sincerity.  It becomes like praying a vain repetition to God… We learn all the right things to say, how to say it and when to say it… And somewhere in the midst, our responses just become part of the “thing that you do” as a Christian.

My caution to Christian’s, is that people are looking for something that is REAL, and I believe with SINCERE CONVICTION that a relationship with Jesus can absolutely change a persons life!  However, if we are perceived to be insincere or fake while using a non-relevant or foreign form of communication with people who just don’t understand what we are talking about, it will alienate us from actually helping people when they are hurting… What I am saying here is, KNOW WHEN TO TURN IT OFF!

I heard a guy say once, when talking about a woman that he considered dating, “She’s a good fisher of men”… I laughed… WHO SAYS THAT?!  When Jesus talked about being a “fisher of men” He was speaking to fishermen… It was relevant… He was speaking their language and using a comparison that would make sense to a FISHERMAN… But calling a woman a “good fisher of men”…?  Man, that just seems wrong to me on so many levels…Ha!  To the guy who grew up singing “I will make you fishers of men” in Sunday school, we immediately make the appropriate mental association (even though it’s a strange thing to say in casual conversation) but to someone who doesn’t understand the metaphor it could easily and rationally sound as if he’s referring to a prostitute…Think About It!  I’m sorry if I just ruined the song for ya…(I could go on with this one, but I think that statement said it all)

I promise you that this stuff happens all the time, I’ve been at the table with a bunch of Christians and heard someone tell the waitress, “I don’t need alcohol, I’m drunk on the Holy Ghost”… To which the waitress looks at them like they are complete idiots…

Recently, a lady walked up to my dad (who looks like a hard core biker) at a National Day of Prayer gathering at the courthouse and asked him, “Are you here for the New Wine”…To which responded, “I like old wine better…”   He knew what she was asking, he just wanted her to think about it herself…

They just say this kind of stuff without thinking because it’s indoctrinated and socially accepted within the culture…but I have to ask, are they really putting any thought into what they are saying or are they just simply shooting off at the lip with no real purpose behind their words… Any thinking individual would be able to realize how strange that it would appear to ask someone outside of Christian culture if “They were here for the New Wine”…Heck, it’s weird to me and it’s MY CULTURE!

Listen to this, “Have you been cut by the blade of Muhammad”?… “Are you ready to ascend the mountains to a place of Zen”… “I’m burning in my heart with the fire of Hare Krishna”, “Has anyone told you today that the sweat of Buddha can quench your thirst and calm your fears” …I made all of those up and they are intentionally “weird” but think about how you would feel if you were talking to someone and they started using phrases like that… Not only would you be uncomfortable and confused, but you might just get scared… (especially if they were looking you in the eyes as intently as many Christians look at others when they are using parallel “christianese” statements)…Ha, I think I might do a video experiment asking people those questions on the street while staring at them with intense eyes…the responses would be great to have on film to illustrate this point!

So let’s wind this up, I understand what you mean when I feel discouraged and you tell me, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”…It helps that I’ve studied the Bible and I believe it is truth so I can receive your encouragement and understand where you are coming from by quoting that verse without explanation… But, how many people outside of the church do you know that even use the word “joy” anymore?  When speaking with people, and using these kinds of references, please make sure you are not just absent mindedly repeating a learned insincere response to a hurting person… Say what you mean, and mean what you say…and do it in love!

Unless we elaborate beyond the “cliché” they will not understand what we’re trying to convey (hey that rhymed)… In order for our words to actually have an impact, we would have to actually mean them on a heart level and take the time and explain the difference between happiness and joy and how that what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross provides beyond what is commonly discerned or often understood in the realm of happiness.  Let me just say, this is not going to be a short, insincere conversation…You will have to invest some time and love into it…into them…

Don’t let the conversation start and end with only the christianese statement…If you are going to tell someone that “the Joy of the Lord is their strength”, take a minute and elaborate on why the bible says that and take it a step further and offer to pray for them or with them… And when you pray, PLEASE remember what I’m talking about here… Be real with people… Show them how to be real with God… God doesn’t speak the Kings English, and WE DON’T HAVE TO EITHER…

If you’ve been a Christian more than a day, you’ve probably been guilty of what I am talking about here.  And that’s ok!  This is not a condemnation message that I am writing…It’s actually comical when we think about it from an outside perspective…My only intent is to get you to intentionally consider the words that you are speaking and to challenge you to be real with what you are conveying when you speak.  If the power of life and death are in the tongue, it would be wise to actually weigh the words…

I’ll “close with this”…HA!  My Pastor often says, “Perception determines reception…” How would you perceive you if you were not you…?

Don’t get mad at me… I love you with the Love of the Lord…(insert wink here)

…and all the time God is Good.

If you can dig it, Say “WORD!”

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