The Christian Cliches
If you grew up in church, went to bible study, attended bible camp, or have Christian friends, I’m sure that you’ve heard them. The Christian cliches. They get thrown around in conversation as if they’re magic spells; the one who voices them usually has an imaginary wizard hat on his/her head and is so proud to announce the acronym that makes us all feel less holy, “You just gotta push man! Just push it!” (Pray until something happens). Or how about this one, “Just gotta stay BIG!” (Bold in God). Often times, there is an awkward silence after one of these weird cliches is thrown out, sometimes in disbelief, sometimes because of confusion. Like when someone says FROG (Fully rely on God). Here are a few others you may have heard throughout your life:
- ASAP- Always Say A Prayer
- CEO’s- Christians Encouraging Others
- CIA- Christ Is Alive
- DOG- Depend On God
- JIM- Jesus In Me
The list goes on. I always got so frustrated when a Christian would shove a cliche on me. ”How does that help me?” I would think.
Or how about the Jesus juke? Ever been out with a group of friends and have someone throw a juke your way? I’m certain that you have. Take for instance a conversation about how great a band’s performance recently was. Maybe everyone is talking about how spectacular the show was and how they have never been to a better concert. Then (The Juker) jumps in with a witty, holier than though comment, “Wouldn’t it be great if we were all marveling at how great God is? God is WAY (Wicked Awesome Yahweh) more talented and artistic than that band. We should be worshiping God, not that band.” Yes, that has happened before, and there are plenty of other examples.
But today, I don’t want to keep vomiting out pointless cliches and putting them down. What good would that do the Kingdom? No, instead I want to bring up yet another acronym and, hopefully, cause you to dwell on this compelling question.
Those letters are on bracelets, lanyards, t-shirts, bumpers of cars, human flesh, head bands, sweat bands, and are sometimes written in the sky. When I was growing up, I heard the question, “What would Jesus do?” countless times when I did something or said something that I shouldn’t have. Often times WWJD was a way of persuading me to, not speed down a residential road (never mind the fact that Jesus rode on donkeys and did not drive cars), make fun of someone less fortunate than I, or stop bullying my sister/brother, or sometimes even to get me to clean my room; after all, cleanliness is next to Godliness. That’s in the Bible somewhere, right?
Sure. If John Wesley wrote the Bible.
Nevertheless, that question has been pounded into the ground. I wouldn’t recommend asking a friend WWJD seriously, unless you enjoy watching people roll their eyes. But, I would recommend taking that question to heart if you are serious about a life full of rewards and adventures. IF you are serious about living a life that pursues the author and creator of life. IF you want truly want to be more like the man who made the greatest sacrifice this world has ever seen.
What I am suggesting is that you ask yourself that question, not before deciding if something is a good choice or not, or not after you’ve just flipped someone the bird because they just cut you off; but rather ask that question when you are feeling lost or weak. Ask, “What would Jesus do?” when you see a stranger or a friend struggling with something that he/she cannot overcome. Or after work when you’re tired and just want to tune out life and spend countless hours on facebook or watching t.v., ponder if Christ would do the same.
I promise you that, if you take this question seriously and answer it honestly, your life will dramatically change. The answer to “What would Jesus Do?” will almost always be “talk to God”, “read the scriptures”, “serve”, “humble yourself”, “love unconditionally”, or “preach the good news”.
But please, do not take my word for it. Let’s take a look at what the text has to say about what Jesus did.
Jesus would serve.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Jesus served and humbled himself before the men that he did life with daily for 3 years. He also gave a command to those men and to us, saying “Look, if I did it, you should most certainly do it. I am the great I am! I am the Holy Father. Are you better than me? I didn’t think so. Now get to it. Serve one another, stay humble.” That of course is my way of paraphrasing his words. But Jesus knew that we needed him to remind us how insignificant we are compared to him. If Christ got on his knees and washed the donkey crap off of his friends feet, how could we say, “Oh, I can’t help (that person). God would never ask me to involve myself in something so dirty. I’m much too important to be bothered with issues of such little value.”?
Idiots! All of us. I know at some point you’ve probably had that line of thinking, I definitely have. More often than I’d like to admit. I’m so thankful that Christ puts me in my place, and that he does it with urgency and vigor, and even anger sometimes (unlike we are often taught in churches, but that is for another blog).
Jesus would pray.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
This is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible. After praying for his disciples, Jesus prays for all believers. That’s you and I! He asks God to Glorify himself through his life, so that we may know the truth; God is glorious, magnificent, awesome, omnipotent, and holy.
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Jesus, a man with more passion than I could ever contain, lets that passion spill out into his discussions with God. Luke 6:12 tells us that He went up on a mountain and prayed all night. The example of Jesus in the Garden teaches us that, no matter what the cause or how great the prayer, God’s will must always go before ours. And in Matthew 6:9-13 when Jesus teaches us how to pray, he reinforces that we are to always seek out God’s will in prayer.
Jesus’ entire ministry was to glorify God and make his glory known to mankind. In Mark 16:15 gives the command to go out into the world and preach the good news. All throughout the gospels, we find Jesus teaching the scriptures and helping the pharisees and other jokers see what God is really about.
Jesus would love unconditionally.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This is just one of the many examples that the scriptures give us of Jesus loving people unconditionally. Its one of my favorites, because once again the pharisees think they’ve finally gotten the upper hand on Jesus, and instead they get blown away by his response. Jesus even tells us that, besides loving God with everything inside of us, loving each other as we love ourselves is the most important commandment (Mark 12:29-31). But the most obvious example of Christ’s unconditional love is found in the most well known and over-bumper stickered verse (John 3:16). The idea of Jesus laying down his life and being put to shame and humility for a world full of unworthy sinners, is such an incredible example of how we are to love.
Jesus would be humble.
What was Jesus’ choice of transportation for his triumphant entry into Jerusalem? A donkey (Mark 11). I don’t know how familiar you are with the era of the Roman Empire, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, kings didn’t ride into cities on donkeys. Actually, they would usually ride in on chariots surrounded by guards and other royal figures. Not only was Jesus fulfilling the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9-10 but, he was also making a political statement. Humility.
We also find Jesus dining in the homes of people who were not royal or filthy rich. Our King often ate with the hated, and people looked down upon (Luke 5:27-39, Luke 7:36-50, Luke19:1-10). Jesus was always careful to be an example of how we are to remain humble. He is constantly battling the disciples on the issue of pride (John 13, Mark 9:33-34, Luke 9:46-48).
So, what would Jesus do?
I’m not trying to bring back a Christian fad. I’m not trying to drill a cliche into your minds, I just want to remind us all (myself included) that Christianity is a way of life. Fix your heart on the things that Christ was/is about. Make your daily walk more of a daily journey chasing after God’s will for this world. Let’s bring the kingdom to earth.
Its time to do work, folks.
It doesn’t take a Rick Warren or Billy Graham to save souls. God doesn’t require a voice like Kim Walker to call people into worship. All it takes to start a revelation is a man or a woman stepping out in faith and obedience, loving and serving like Christ. That kind of lifestyle is noticeable and contagious.
So please, if nothing else from this post has been sewn into your heart, hear this: Jesus IS about loving people unconditionally, without judgment. Jesus IS about telling the world about the greatness of God. Jesus IS for relying on the Father for all of your strength. Jesus IS about changing the world.
Jesus was not about making the scriptures hip or cool to attract the masses.
Once you preach the good news, the Spirit convicts the heart of the person who is hearing your words. It’s not about how palatable you make the Gospel. God’s will is for you to teach the scriptures (without your filtering or revisions). He will do the rest of the work. Have faith, live like Christ.