Christian Cliches

19 03 2008

Lost until Jesus Saved MeStanding in a long, slow-moving post office line today, I started talking to the man standing behind me. Over the course of the conversation we discovered that we are both Christians.

 He was estatic to discover that we were both ‘committed’ to our faith. He asked me, ‘But don’t you find it difficult, all the persecution we suffer at the hands of unbelievers? They just don’t understand our belief.’

I said, ‘Um, most people seem fairly tolerant of my beliefs and are happy to accept that my faith works for me.’ I told him how I don’t preach to people, but I do share the difference that trusting Jesus has made to my life. I mentioned that an awareness of God’s love has helped me to be less selfish, something that I really became aware of once I was married.

He said, ‘Yes, a lady at my church said that “There isn’t any room for selfishness because it doesn’t leave space for God.” That’s true, don’t you think?’

By now, I was aware of other people around us, also bored by the long line and enjoying some entertainment by appearing not to be listening to our conversation. I said, ‘Can anyone ever be free of selfishness? Isn’t it essentially human to be selfish? Our selfishness is the reason we need God.’

He thought for a moment, and then said, ‘I don’t really know what that lady meant. I guess it’s just important to “put Jesus first in your heart and have a heart full of Jesus.”‘

‘Um . . . what does that mean?’ I said. I knew what he was getting at, but his use of these Christian cliches was starting to get to me.

He waffled a bit and said it was something like reading the Bible every day and praying. Then it was finally my turn to send my package, so we said good-bye.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful of this kind and keen man. I’m certain he is sincere. But I’m troubled by his use of these stock phrases. I worry that he goes to church and learns a slogan without really understanding what it means. It makes me wonder about the depth of the preaching at his church. And I also wonder whether he uses these phrases on people who have never gone to church. If so, it’s no wonder people don’t understand his beliefs. He doesn’t.

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