1. I’ll pray about it. a.) Really? When? For how long? How will you know when you’ve prayed enough? b.) Most of the time I believe this is just an excuse to avoid having to say a direct “no” to things we don’t want to do. After all, “No” is harder to argue with if you’ve prayed about it. Like “Oh great, the No is coming directly from God now. How can anyone argue with that?”
2. Got saved. Like it’s past tense, or ancient history. Like saving isn’t still happening. Like the biggest thing that has ever happened in your spiritual life happened back then, kind of like that concert you went to way back when. You don’t remember much about it now, other than it was awesome. But it was awesome. And by the way, saved from what? Most people can’t really articulate this very well.
3. The end times, or last days. I’m not sure if any concept has been responsible for more “Christian” lunacy than this. Setting aside the fact that the theological concept of the “rapture” was almost completely invented in the early 1800’s, even if we are “living in the last days,” the response of every single human being doesn’t change one bit — to live with honesty and integrity in the present moment and, if you are a Christian — to know this is what honors God.
4. Is this a sin, or will I go to hell if... This one may bother me on so many levels as to require its own post. Summary — adventures in missing the point. Salvation is life with God. Sin is that which keeps us from knowing that life. Both holiness and wickedness are cumulative. They both grow slowly in the human heart and they both lead a person down a certain path.
5. He/she would make a wonderful Christian. Why is that? It’s usually because they are especially kind or loving or patient, in which case that person already makes an exceptional human being. I think more Christians should focus on what it means to be an exceptional human being. We would discover that being an exceptional human being pleases God. Jesus was an exceptional human being. By the way, Jesus wasn’t a Christian either. He would have made such a wonderful Christian!
6. Do you believe [such and such] at your church? I have yet to hear that question asked as anything but a litmus test for whether a church is doctrinally “correct.” The problem with this, of course, is that people who worry a lot about doctrinal correctness so often seem to be fairly unconcerned with what bastards so many doctrinally correct people are. Right theology leads to right living in the deepest sense. Bad living stems from bad theology.
7. “The church just needs to rise up and…” The church needs to STOP rising up. Why don’t we get that by now? We need to stop trying to change the world, look in the mirror, and change ourselves. This applies to all of those overhyped worship conferences that talk about a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, yadda, yadda. We don’t need a new outpouring of anything. God has given us his presence. Our failure has mostly been in learning how to live deeply in what has already been given.
8. “Defending the faith.” It is nearly impossible to defend anything without being or getting defensive. I’ve never once seen a single person being defensive in love. What do we need to defend? God is a big boy. If I can’t believe this, I don’t have any reason to believe in God at all.
9. “That sermon (worship, song, etc.) didn’t feed me.” If you have been a Christian less than two years, you get a pass on this one. If more than two years, you should be feeding yourself like we expect of any two year old. It’s not a meal, so you don’t come to church to pig out. It’s a celebration, so you come to share in the presence of God with other believers.
10. “Evangelism training…” Perhaps more than anything else, the need for modern evangelism training shows how drastically we have missed the point. When your first child was born, no one needed to train you to tell others about it. When something that’s part of your life matters to you, you talk about it. Period. That so many Christians struggle so deeply with this is absolute proof that we are taught to “learn” religion rather than live into it. We need training because we think we have to “learn” others in the faith, rather than inviting them into it with us. Don ‘t think too much about that one or it’ll move your cheese big time.
BONUS THING CHRISTIANS SAY THAT DRIVES ME CRAZY
11. “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” You are not wired to do this. God created you as a whole person. You either love or you don’t. “But I don’t want to love that part of someone else that is sinful.” Yes, certainly. We wouldn’t want a murderer thinking we love that part of him that is most filthy and dirty or he’ll think we approve of murder. True. “What the world needs now is love, fully provisional and contingent love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” What is your choice? Love people — all people — through and through, head to toe, top to bottom. Accept the choices they make, even if they’re not the choices you would make. Believe that your all-powerful God will forgive you for taking love too seriously and erring on the side of compassion, if indeed either of those is possible. For all our talk about the power and love of God, we sure are afraid of taking God’s love too far, aren’t we? Of all sins, perhaps that’s the one God can forgive most easily.