Phrases Churches Must Stop Saying

Excerpt from Spring Cleaning of Our Mouths for The Farmville Enterprise

wash+mouthBecause words have tremendous power, there are many words that I believe churches need to stop saying.

We’ve never done it that way before and You are in my seat?

When these words are spoken at church, they almost always mean that “new ideas, new ways of thinking, new approaches to ministry, and new people are not welcome here.” These words espouse a “This-is-my-church-my-house philosophy. And any words espousing that this is our house and not God’s house have the power to kill a church.

The Bible clearly says…

Whenever I hear this expression, I get a little nervous. People who use this expression are usually thinking: “There is only one interpretation of the Bible, and it is mine!”

Love the sinner and hate the sin.

These words infer that we can somehow separate the sin from the sinner; however, sin is so much a part of our DNA, so much a part of who we are in this fragmented world, that it simply cannot be avoided. And when we think that we have reached some sort of spiritual pinnacle that we can somehow avoid sin, we contradict who Jesus calls us to be by becoming arrogant, proud, snooty and judgmental. And we drive people away from the church in droves.

If you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity?

When we infer that we should follow Jesus only to selfishly receive some award instead of punishment, then we miss the whole point of who Jesus is and who he calls us to be. Jesus calls us not to save our lives, but to lose our lives. Jesus calls us to live a self-giving, self-expending life rooted in radical selflessness. Jesus never said: “Follow me and go to heaven.” He said: “Follow me and carry a cross.”

And then there are the classics:

God has God’s reasons or God doesn’t make mistakes or God will not put any more on us than we can bear or It’s God’s will and we will just have to accept it.

These words have caused countless people to leave the faith. There is no telling how many people have reached the conclusion: “If God is the one who caused my baby to die, if God is the reason behind my divorce, if God created my loved one to suffer, if God put all of these financial hardships on me, then I would be better off living in Hell for all of eternity than with a God like that.”

I believe too many churches have tried to teach the Christian faith while avoiding the pain and suffering of However, when we move too casually through the season of Lent to get to Easter, when we move too quickly through Holy Week, and sometimes even overlook Good Friday, we miss what may be the most important tenet of the Christian faith: Our God is a God who suffers. God is not seated on a throne far removed from the creation, pressing buttons, pulling levers, causing human misery, but our God is here in the midst of human pain, suffering with us. So, in a way, our God is still on the cross today. Our God is a God who grieves, agonizes, and bleeds. Our God is never working against us, but always working for us, creating and recreating, resurrecting, painfully doing all that God can do to wring whatever good can be wrung out of life’s most difficult moments.

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