The One Christian Cliché I’ve Tossed for Good

Thees and Thous.

Hedge of protection.

Traveling mercies.

Let go and let God.

So many odd phrases pepper our western Christian culture. Some are rooted in Bible and some have been twisted over time. Some were never in scripture to begin with.

Over the past two years, I’ve meditated continually on 1 John 2:6.

“…the one who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

walking

Okay. So if I want to be like Christ, I just need to walk like Jesus. I gotta say, that seems like a tall order. It’s like being told in order to be pretty, I should just look like Cindy Crawford. I can’t do that. I’m not her.

Thankfully, I’ve learned walking in the same manner as Jesus is possible. It’s allowing His Spirit to mold me into His image. Letting God chip away the hard places in me until I resemble His Son. It’s a journey of imperfect progress of dying to self as I learn to think like Him. Speak like Him. Love like Him. Having my heart so intertwined with His, that the things that cause His heart to grieve, to dance, to rejoice, to become angry, to weep, eventually become the things that cause mine to do the same.

In the middle of this journey, I’ve come to the realization this process might include unlearning some of the popular Christian clichés of the day.

Christianese is a strange, funny, twisted mess, y’all.

One Christian cliché that makes me giggle is “hedge of protection”. What does that mean?  If you’re going to ask for God’s protection on my behalf, could you ask for more than a string of azaleas, please? Maybe a wall? Particle board? Anything more substantial than shrubbery.

stuck-in-window

Or how about “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” What? So God isn’t big enough to open another door? He’s going to make me crawl through a window? (Or, ahem, pardon my snark, but has anyone forgotten that the enemy can open and close doors too?)

There’s also “God helps those who help themselves”, or “Everything that happens is part of God’s plan.” Both of these are false. There are countless others but one in particular has been bugging me for some time and I’m determined to kick it from my repertoire for good. Yes, I’ve been guilty of saying this Christian cliché classic….

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

What is so wrong about this particular phrase? It sounds Biblical and we know God does not tolerate sin.

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.” (Psalm 5:4)

The issue with this little nugget of Christianese is the beginning. “Love the sinner…”

If I want to walk, talk and be like Jesus, I must view people with the same heart Jesus did. Jesus never once told his disciples, or anyone else, to ‘love sinners’. He said, “Love your neighbor”. (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark  12:31)       love-your-neighbor                                                                                                        

When we set up a precedent of saying “Love the sinner”, we are in effect placing ourselves in a place of spiritual comparison. Of superiority. “My sin is not as bad as theirs.” Can you hear the pride and condescension now?

Jesus died for all men and women, boys and girls, race and nationality, offender, dictator and criminal. He loves us all. I don’t have time to be worrying about everyone else’s sin issues. I have enough of my own.

I pitched the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” cliche for good. I think a much better thought would be “Hate sin. Love your neighbor. Jesus will handle the rest.”

hate-sin-love-your-neighbor

For a funny look at other Christian cliches, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuK4sZdR36s

Are there Christian clichés that drive you crazy? I would love to hear about it!

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