Faith

Do Strange Christian Phrases Really Communicate Christianity?

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Relevant magazine recently published a list of 20 strange examples of Christian-speak — Christian phrases you typically only hear inside a church — that leaves some people scratching their heads.

If you’ll give me a moment, I’d like to “pour into you” a bit of wisdom on “Christian-speak.” That’s my term for the Christian phrases on this list from Relevant magazine.

I don’t intend to beat you up about it: I want to “love on you” for a few moments while we discuss this topic that I hope at least a few of you might be “convicted” about.

Some of the listings in Relevant’s article are quite entertaining. Take the one about the phrase, “God has you right where He wants you” asking if it means God is “a Bond villain.”

But some of the other phrases are somewhat questionable.

There’s the “pour into you” and “love on you” examples I mentioned above. There are also phrases like, “being drunk in the Spirit” and “winning souls.” 

That last one is a particularly annoying one because it puts the focus (and the praise) on the person who helped lead a person to Christ rather than Christ Himself. Even when we say, “He won a soul for Christ,” it’s still — to a point — about us, not about Him. If I’ve ever said anything or done anything that helped lead a person to decide to accept Christ, I’m certainly happy to have played a role in it. But I didn’t “win” anything. The person who made the life-changing decision is the winner. And if I happened to play a role in it, that may well only be because I just happened to be at the right place at the right time; it could just have easily been anyone else besides me if it happened at any other moment.

But bigger than this squabble with a single phrase is the way all of these phrases are most often used: it always has to be a church context, either in church or outside of church, but often only around other Christians as if there’s some “secret code” that only those “in the club” get to use.

If we’re going to act that way, we’re getting it wrong in a spectacular way.

Christianity isn’t a club. It isn’t only for special “members.” It’s for everyone. We’re called to make everyone understand how valued they are by God. When we speak as if there’s a “code” we all have to know, we’re not being inclusive: we’re behaving as if there’s an exclusivity that shuts out everyone else right from the start.

And if we’re talking one way in a “Christian” setting and another way in a more “secular” setting, we’re betraying our own belief system by acting as if God isn’t everywhere and all-knowing, as if when we speak “normally,” God isn’t really listening to what we’re saying.

I’ve seen it ever since I was a kid.

Guys who’d speak one way — the way you’d speak with friends around a dinner table — until they had an opportunity to pray, and then they’d flip some invisible switch and the lofty Christian phrases just come “pouring out.” 

Do we really think we’re fooling God with this stuff?

Why can’t we speak the same way all the time? Why do we feel the need to change our speaking style? Sure, it’s largely a learned behavior from what we’ve seen others do in church.

But that doesn’t automatically make it right, does it?

If we’re putting on a show around other Christians so we can sound more Christian, at some point, we need to ask ourselves how “Christian” we really are?

What’s your least favorite Christian phrase and what’s your beef with it?

2 Comments

  1. I cannot stand seeing PtL at the end of emails or posts or texts. It drives me nuts. After I saw it a couple times I finally googled it, thinking I was missing out on chat lingo like LOL or something. Nope. Praise the Lord! Because that’s too long to just type. I’m thinking, How much praising is happening if you can’t even bring yourself to use the words? I think it’s also sneaky, because if someone doesn’t know what this means, and they decide to inquire rather than look it up, it’s like a trap. Like the user put it out there specifically with the intent of launching into what it means. My mom does that not only with PtL but with other secular phrases. She’ll drop names or medical terms or shortcuts into a conversation, then pause — because she knows I don’t know what the heck she’s talking about and just can’t wait for me to ask what it means so she can show off how smart she is for knowing. I stopped playing that game; I don’t ask. If I’m curious I google it later, but more often than not I just let it go. Lingo for club members is silly. In 5th grade the girls had the obligatory Unicorn Club with secret passwords. I’m all growed up now, and ain’t nobody got time for that! Speak plainly or hold your tongue!

  2. I think what you have just explained is why I never could get into religion in the first place: it always was depicted as a special group with a secret handshake and I felt that would never be my kind of feeling about any religion. But here’s the kicker: all the various religions I met people from were represented exactly this way! Always the same expressions, always the same words: “OURS is the only right way, all the rest are wrong.” (The litany is much longer than that, of course, but you know what I mean. I never could appreciate this mndset. I could not appreciate all the bigotry, either, and that seems to come with it all the time.
    You are so clearly not like this.
    I have to admit that I understood almost none of those phrases – just those in the earliest portion of this article.
    The secret handshake, aye?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.