We Mean Well, But…
Church-goers beware! We've been saying the same Christian cliches for years and not even realizing how it has impacted those around us. It's hard to think that we have been pushing folks away from our Lord by some of our "auto-responses", especially when our heart really wants to draw people to Jesus. Let's take a look at five phrases that we have been saying that are scaring folks away:
1) "The Bible clearly says..."
Let's face it, the Bible has thousands of tissue-paper thin -pages. And on those pages God's Word is printed in the smallest font. When we say what the Bible "clearly" says, it is often coming across as saying, I've read the big book and I know more than you, you are behind the ball, and it's a shame you don't know this. Reading and understanding God's Word is a life long journey, so when we share what it says with others we should be more understanding and teach with a heart of love, compassion, and conviction.
2) "God will never give you more than you can handle"
It was Mother Teresa who paraphrased this phrase from the Bible. Although it is meant to encourage someone in a time of trouble, it can also make them too dependent on their own strength and not enough on God's. Someone may ask,"If I can handle this then why am I losing my mind?" In reality, we all need encouragement, we all need to know that we have help when we need it, and we need to know that we don't have to handle everything alone.
3) "Love on" (e.g. "As youth group leaders, we're just here to love on those kids.")
When we say love on, it places the attention directly on the person and what's wrong rather than the unconditional love of Christ. When you love on someone, chances are that they have a situation or problem and you've adopted them as your ministry project. No one wants to be a project, so the plain ol' love of Christ will work just fine.... it always has and always will.
4) Black and white quantifiers of faith, such as "Believer, Unbeliever, Backsliding"
Hardly anyone likes to be labeled or put into a category. These labels can make many people feel uncomfortable and often ashamed to come around "believers". Our job is to make sinners feel welcome to come to Christ rather than afraid of our judgement.
5) "God is in control . . . has a plan . . . works in mysterious ways"
This is one that isn’t hard to agree with. God in fact IS in control, He has an ultimate plan and that plan doesn't always make sense to us. But when someone is going through something difficult, this phrase may only offer more uncertainty. When someone is in trouble presenting to them a mysterious God may not always be the answer. Instead, we should show them the God who came to earth, walked and talked with us, who hears us, and who is there to have a relationship with us. Jesus wants to be close to us, and we can get to know Him, and "He is close to the brokenhearted." (Psalm 34:18)
It's no wonder that so many people have been ashamed to come to church. We've been caught saying these phrases, and we didn't even realize how it made others feel. Doh! We Christians should be striving more to become like Christ, to be compassionate towards anyone that needs him. So let's do just that! It's the love of Christ that caused us to come to Him, and we owe it Him to extend that love to others.
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