I've been around "Christianese" my entire life and I've learned the language. You know, the ways that Christians talk to each other, with certain catch phrases that are understood only within the context of like minded folks. People outside of Christianity, or even those outside of certain Christian denominations are usually totally clueless when those speaking Christianese start throwing commonly used phrases around. Some that come to mind:
*set this place on fire*
*die to self*
*move of the Spirit*
*attack of the enemy*
*led by God*
*covered by the blood*
While all of these phrases and hundreds more like them are based on real truths found in the Bible, unless one is familiar with their meanings, they are totally confusing and meaningless, and in fact sound downright weird.
Once my husband and I were visiting an elderly orthodox Jewish lady, a Holocaust survivor, a feisty lady who was always up for a good debate. She point blank asked us, "what do you people (referring to the fact we are Christians) mean by born again?" My husband promptly said "I'm glad you asked that question" and proceeded to tell her the biblical story of the man in the Gospels who asked that same question of Jesus. A prime example of a commonly used Christian phrase that was totally meaningless to someone on the "outside".
Another phrase that Christians use a lot is this one: "It's not about religion--it's about relationship" which might be spoken to someone who desires to know more about God, or to know God in a meaningful way but they have been trapped in religious traditions or teachings that might be based on a "good works orientation" which has left them always striving to be "good enough" to approach God and has not freed them to have an intimate personal relationship with their Creator.
This past week I've been thinking about what exactly does it mean to have a personal relationship with God?
In the first place, this relationship was intended by Him from the beginning. We were created by Him and for Him, and in His own image. He knew our name even before He created the foundations of the earth. Amazing, but true. He even knew the plans He had for us as individuals, from what would be our family of origin, to what specific gifts and talents we would have. His plan from the beginning was to have fellowship with His created beings in an intimate way and to provide for our every need.
We know this intimacy was broken way back in the garden, when Adam and Eve chose to disregard God's best way, and thought they could choose their own. Sin entered the world, and mankind has been sorrowfully struggling ever since.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ was sent from God to live the holy life we could never live, and die the death that we deserved. All to restore us to a relationship with God...a personal intimate relationship with One who knows us better than we know ourselves.
Through Jesus, God became approachable. Our broken relationship with our Creator can be restored. We can fellowship with Him intimately. He's not "the man upstairs" or some other vague "higher power" but He is our Father who desires for us to get to know Him and His ways.
A friend of mine, someone who is fun to be around even though our beliefs do not line up with each other's, recently posted a note on Facebook telling of her take on "religion". While she says some nice things, such as "gratitude is a way to put a smile on God's face", she doesn't believe in the written revelation of God, what we call The Bible. She is correct though, when she says that no one can "prove" their beliefs are the "right" ones. That's why Christianity is all about "faith". Faith is what we believe in even though we can't always prove it or see it.
Christianity is the only religion where God reaches out to man to restore relationship with Himself. All other religions are about man trying to reach God by "doing" something that might please Him. Christianity says "while you were still an enemy, God provided a way to save you."
Do you have a personal relationship with God? You may come to Him because He has already provided the way. Jesus is the door. Come in! When He calls you, won't you say, "here I am"?
Christian, let's all be more careful when we throw around phrases that those who don't know our Savior may find confusing. May our speech by clear and always pointing to the cross. There's enough static and confusion in our world already. May we heed Paul's instructions:
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:2-6