Thursday, March 25, 2010

Christian Phrases that I Hate, yes Hate.

Now I know that none of you have ever heard another Christian say something that just sets your teeth on edge, but I have. Maybe I am being a bit too persnickety, but there are a couple of phrases that are floating around in our Christian vernacular that drive me up one wall and down the other. And every time I hear them I have to weigh whether or not to address the situation. I am sure that you have heard them, may have even said them. I know I have.

But sometimes it is a good idea to sit back and really think about the words that come out of our mouths, even those words used by “good church folk.” Honestly, I don’t believe that most of us mean them the way I hear them, but I have heard them one too many times today, so I have to speak up.

One saying that is troubling me so is, “and God used me.” There are lots of variations to this one, “I was used of God,” “God will use you,” and my all time favorite is the plea that God will use one in His service. Why, you ask, does this bother me so? Allow me to explain.

It irritates and offends me on two levels. The first is, since when is it alright or commendable to use a friend or loved one? And if any one of our friends ever intentionally used us, would we really be okay with it? Would we brag to our other friends that we were used? Would we declare it among large groups of people? Wouldn't sense of trust fly right out the window?

I don’t know about you, but the last friend who “used” me isn’t a friend anymore. There is the implication that we are only as important to God as we are useful to Him. So when you cease to be useful, you cease to be valuable. People are not tools that are used to accomplish a task and then put aside. In healthy relationships, we rely on each other, help each other, and even sacrifice for each other, but when we start using each other the relationship ceases to be healthy. As a matter of fact we have a term for relationships where one party uses the other, it’s called co-dependent. And I have a really hard time seeing God that way.

On the second level is the feint fragrance of arrogance. It is the man standing at the street corner declaring his humility. There is the taint of self importance, the idea that God somehow needed us to do whatever He needed to be done. I hate to break to you, but God is capable of doing whatever He pleases, whenever He pleases, to and with whomever He chooses. Any part we may play in the things He is doing is negligible at best and completely superfluous most of the time.

This is the beautiful part of being allowed to participate in His activities. The fact that He doesn’t need us makes the fact that we got the invitation that much more wonderful. If we could wrap our heads around the idea that He desires to spend time with Him, not because we are so gosh-darn indispensable, but rather that He loves us we might have a little better perspective of our place in this world.

Maybe I am taking things a bit too far here, but I believe that our thoughts determine our language and our language helps shape our thoughts. And maybe, just maybe, the fact that we have run around all these years somehow thinking that God needs to use us has made us forget how powerful He really is.

One thing that makes me think this is another overused Christian phrase, “I am defending God, my faith, etc.” Really? How might we be accomplishing such a feat? By picking fights with others, by getting caught up in useless arguments and debates? If I remember correctly, Paul had something to say about that, and I believe it was “don’t”. And I also seem to remember Jesus saying something about presenting the message and walking away if it was not received.

You see, my God rained fire and brimstone down on a place that wasn’t living up to His standards. He did not outfit an army with flame throwers, He did not send in a squad with napalm. He didn’t even send someone to shout warnings on the street corners. He handled it, alone. And when Abraham tried to interfere, God listened but carried out His plans anyway.

I believe that God doesn’t need to use us to defend Himself. I think He can handle just about anything us humans can throw at Him, and maybe if we stopped trying to take credit for stuff that really is none of our concern we could focus on what is important. Things like loving our neighbor, showing compassion to the hurting, and walking in deeper relationship with Him. I have to believe that the world could be changed if we stopped worrying about being used and simply lived a life that was joyfully transformed by being in His presence. I have to hope that if we loved our enemies, instead of trying to protect God from them, they could witness His grace and mercy, and find a desire to know this God who loves us so.


Anonymous said...

yeah never heard those phrases before...

Carlos L said...

I agree with you in part, and I find myself siding with those who use the very phrases that seem to offend you could it be these folks are completely innocent in their thoughts, and could it be this the best way for them to describe the awesome way that God has impacted their lives? Every one is not able to express their self in quite as an effective way as yourself. Could it be that we should take the time to try to understand exactly what these folks actually mean when they use those sayings that seem to offend you. I agree we can and should find better ways to express ourselves but when we hear something that just does not seem quite right maybe we should investigate it instead of condemning it.

Anonymous said...

I'd say you're a bit too persnickety here. Using means being an open vessel,emptying yourself and ALLOWING someone else (in this case the Holy Spirit) to enable you to do something not ordinarily done.
Not everytime, but a lot of times,so it's not always bragging...

Emily said...

I was not intentionally avoiding responding to anyone's comments, but I got a bit distracted. I just wanted to point out that we often say things in an accepted manner without bothering to think about what we are really saying.

And yes, I am being persnickety, and I acknowledged that up front. However, aren't matters of the eternal worth the extra time and consideration?