Lately at Granger Community Church, we've been exploring weekend conversations like:
- Making room for doubt in our lives, in our faith
- Christians give people plenty of reasons to not want to be a Christian
- There are some things we wish, quite frankly, Jesus would never have said
- Check out each weekend teaching of these series here.
This week I read Eddie Becker's article in Relevant Magazine, pointing to 5 Things Christians Should Stop Saying. It's a great article. If I were you, I'd go read the whole thing here. I'll summarize his list:
- That's really just a first-world problem.
- I'll be praying for you.
- Are you saved?
- I have an unspoken prayer request.
- Don't worry, God has a plan.
His list got me thinking, so I thought I'd add a few more:
- I understand.
- Chances are, we don't. We think we do. We want to. But, really we can't fully understand what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. Truth is, we really may understand the feeling of betrayal or abandonment or loneliness. So say that - "I've felt lonely." Our desire is to empathize. Do that. Our desire is to communicate "You're not alone." But when we say we understand, we presume too much and risk making the hurting person feel patronized.
- How are you?
- We should think about this question before we ask. Do we really have time to listen to how the other person is? Do we really care to hear? Or are we really just saying, "hi?"
- You'll get through this.
- Of course we mean well. We want to remind the person that this season is temporary. All of life is not summarized or defined with this disappointment or tragedy. But for the person in pain it most certainly is defined as tragedy in this moment. Enter the moment. "You'll get through this" says "You're on your own." "Suck it up."
- Let go and let God.
- Let's just admit it. It sounds nice. It even sounds cute. Clever. What we mean to say is there is value in surrendering to a trustworthy God. But as any of us who have really wrestled through a season or circumstance knows, the wrestling is important to experiencing God and owning our faith.
- God needed him/her more than you.
- Christians say this to grieving people who've lost a family member or friend to death. Frankly, it just makes me mad when I hear this! Seriously? What theology informs this kind of comment? What blindness prevents someone from seeing the deep pain and loss another feels? This trite comment denies the legitimate human need this person feels for companionship and relationship with their loved one. It assumes the only way God is near us is when we die. It says that God needed or wanted your loved one more than you. There is no win in this statement. None.
Maybe there are other things you've said (I know, me too) or heard another Christ-follower say (more likely) that you want to add to the list. I'd love to hear from you. Leave me a comment.
Oh, and thanks, Eddie, for the jumpstart.