In high school and college I took Spanish as part of my foreign language requirement. However, there is no way on earth I would dub myself “bilingual.” Yes, I am one of those sad people who only really knows English and was nerdy enough to make it my major. Living on Guam makes me painfully aware of how many people typically have a few languages they can whip out, if needed. But lately I have come to realize that I am, indeed, bilingual and my second language is “Christianese.”
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with using “Chrisianese” terms, so long as they are theologically correct (“saved by the blood,” “repented of sins,” etc). However, sometimes the language can become one of hindrance, but not just to those who are not Christians, but to those who are. For those of you who have been or are church-goers, let’s be honest, when you go to church you want to present you best self, your best smile, your best outfit. And that is fine. You want to contribute something deep and say all the right things in your Sunday school class or a leadership training session.
The trouble is that sometimes when we want a good reputation or a good slur of Christianese phrases more than we really want Jesus. Some of the most prideful people I have ever met have been regular church attenders, and I am one of the offenders. What if a person can spout all the right things and does love Jesus, but has a hidden struggle, sin, or addiction? Where is he or she to go? Who will speak hope?
A favorite Christmas movie of my family’s is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the part where Charlie Brown is trying to earn the approval of his peers by directing the Christmas play and picking out the best Christmas tree. But he just can’t. Their approval is elusive, and he cracks. “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!” he cries. “Sure, Charlie Brown” his trusty friend Linus says, after he takes his thumb out of his mouth. And he precedes to quote Luke 2:8-14. Charlie Brown was honest and humble enough to ask, and Linus was compassionate enough to answer. He loved his friend, and he wanted to offer him hope–not the hope of his perfection or having the perfect words, but the hope of Jesus come to earth.
I’m preaching to myself on this one. Goodness, how I have always desired for others to think well of me. Due to attending church since I was a baby and always being educated under a Christian institution, I am inevitably fluent in Christianese. And that’s okay, as long as I remember to also be fluent in humility and remember that there is not a single person whose hope rests in my ability to always look put together or say the right thing. Hope always rests in the God Man Jesus Christ. He adorned humility in the womb of a young girl, in the manger of a cave, and on the cross of Calvary, and He spoke the language of hope.
Keep the Faith,
Image credit: Charles M. Schulz/Free Google Images/blog.chateaugranville.com