Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Christian Words

The Bible warns us many times to guard our tongues. We know we should be slow to speak, avoid profane words, etc. But, do we make sure our Christian words don't turn into Christian slang? Sometimes, I think Christians use Christian words to either appear more holy, or make a stronger spiritual point that really doesn't work. Sometimes, I think we just get used to using the words in a slang-ish way. In short, we should mean what we say.

Here are some Christian words that can turn into Christian slang:

1. "It's been on my heart." Has it really been on your heart or has it just been on your mind. There is a difference. Heart implies a Christ-backing to your thoughts. Mind implies it's all you thinking about it. If it's truly been on your heart, then by all means say that it has been. But, if it's something that you've just been mulling over in your mind, or something more casual, just say it's been on your mind. No need to "church it up" as the worldly slang goes. Otherwise, your recipient may feel as if you take things too seriously or when a serious situation arises, it's not as important to you.

2. "Blessed, Blessing, Bless, etc." Yes, we as Christians are continually blessed in the big things as well as the little things. But sometimes it can sound like bragging when we go on and on about all the bits and pieces we were "blessed" at/with. I know women who'll say how blessed they are that their baby didn't throw her food on the floor or that they found a quarter in the parking lot or their husband came home two minutes early. A blessing should be praised and thanked God for and blessings do come in all shapes and sizes, but is it necessary to go crazy with the word? I do give God all the honor and glory and praise and I am blessed. But I don't call every little happenstance a blessing just because I'm a Christian and it's the Christian word to use.

3. "God told me..." Oh, dangerous ground here. We really shouldn't assume a lucky guess or an intuition was God directly speaking to us. For example, when I announced the gender of my unborn baby, a sister in Christ immediately said that God told her I was having a girl. Ummmm...why would God tell you that? Are you some sort of prenatal prophetess? I don't doubt that she had an inner "feeling" that I'm having a girl, but I do doubt that God directly spoke to her and told her I was having a girl.
I am usually right about who's calling before I even pick up the phone and I can often predict the outcome of small things and I suffer from major de ja vu, but does that mean that God is always telling me these things, or am I just putting two and two together to taking a lucky stab or listening to my "gut" feelings? And yes, I do believe God told me I wouldn't miscarry this baby. THAT I am firm on.
Another problem that arises with "God told me..." is when the sentence ends "...that you should do blah." This method was highly used in my old church to guilt-trip people into doing things they didn't have the time and means or talent or calling to do. If it's that important, wouldn't God tell me? Consequently, there was a lot of hurt feelings, division, neglected families, and fallen ministries within that church.

3. "I felt led to..." While intentions are good, I think sometimes this is just an excuse to take blame off of us for stepping into something we probably shouldn't. A while after my miscarriage that almost killed me, a very kind and well-meaning prayer warrior in the church came up to me and prayed over me, saying that he felt led to. He continued to say how he "knew" I was still grieving inside, blah blah blah. While I sincerely appreciated the gesture and I do hold the gentleman in high regard in my church, I was very much over with the grieving and moving forward and he kinda ripped open the fading scars. I still think about it, but I don't grieve.
We as Christians also need to be on guard when it comes to prayer. Just because we prayed over something doesn't mean it's time to open our mouths. Some people take the advice of "pray over it first and then talk" too literally. They forget that while in prayer and before we talk, we should lean on the guidance and timing of the Holy Spirit. I also do not believe that the Holy Spirit works in a way that would drive people farther from Christ and farther from the Christian walk. So, if even after you've prayed, your words are doing quite a bit of damage, then I believe that it's not being led by the Holy Spirit.

Also, prayer should not turn into gossip. Prayer chains should not turn into the "telephone game." A kind of funny, but also serious example occured in my own church when someone was admitted to the hospital for a simple observation. By the time it reached the end of the prayer chain, the guy was dying of a heart attack when he was just fine! There are also times when someone has a situation they're not ready to divulge out for prayer just yet, but someone jumps the gun (usually without all the information). Their intentions are good, but this is when prayer turns into gossip. We can say that so and so needs prayer and leave it at that. God knows the situation. We don't have to tell Him and everyone else when the information wasn't approved of.

We live in a troubled time with many false prophets, teachings and hypocrates. Even fellow Christians succomb to the enemy's tantalizing wolf in Bible clothing. It is VERY serious that we do guard our tongues, even among each other.

It is also important that as Christians we pray for discernment when it comes to others speaking possible Christian slang to us. Rather than just getting upset, we should understand the underlying heart of the matter. Like the sister in Christ who knew my baby's gender and the brother in Christ who prayed for me....their intentions were good and loving and I embrace them for it. In other cases, it might be bullying like in the God told me to tell you to do blah case.

We don't need to tiptoe around such words, but the point of this post is to help all of us mean what we say and avoid Christian slang. And remember, we ALL slip up once in a while, especially me. :)

1 comment:

Catherine R. said...

Hi there, I just wanted to say that I liked what you said here. I find it amusing that Christians have their own language and terms, many of which aren't in the bible anywhere. How about "legalism". I find that many times Christians will criticize groups of people for being "legalistic" in defense of their own poor choices or bad behavior. This was discussed at length on the Families Against Feminism blog. Good post. : )