Have you ever heard a conversation before where you didn't actually understand what was said, but were too embarrassed to ask what they were talking about? Perhaps you just played along, hoping you would eventually catch on, but you never actually did. Christians who have spent a lot of time entrenched in between the church walls start to speak a language that they have picked up while listening to lectures from their pastors. This language is what some call: "Christanese." It is where we, in the church, think that everyone speaks the same language, defines the words the same way, and have effectively put many of our hearers in an awkward conversation.
For this reason, it is so important that we listen to the words of Paul in the book of Colossians, where he said, "Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should." We need to realize that if we talk about the hope that we have in Jesus and our hearer doesn't understand, it means that we didn't really share it with them.
“Christanese,” in my opinion, is the stupidest language I have ever heard. Here’s why: We are attempting to make the truths of God impossible for the common person to understand. Why? So that theologically educated people can speak in such a way to have their own verbal handshake with other scholars and “spiritual” intellects. The Gospel translates to “good news” in the Bible, but ever since I first heard about God, I have noticed that the world seems to disagree on what this good news actually is.
If you quizzed a majority of churchgoers in evangelical churches (evangelical means that they believe that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord, and salvation can only be found through His free gift of grace, and our response of faith) about what the Gospel is, you would hear so many different types of answers. You would wonder if you had accidentally asked them to explain what the color blue tastes like.
So, think about it for a second before you keep reading: What is God’s good news, as found in the Bible?
Here are some answers that I have heard:
· “That God is fair, so if you are a good enough person, He will let you in to heaven.”
Actually, God isn’t fair, because none of us are “good enough.” God is perfect, and He doesn’t grade on a curve. After all, we rate ourselves against Hitler, and if God graded on a curve, He’d grade against Jesus. So, good luck with that.
· “That God wants you to have your best life now! And give you all that you want and desire.
The problem with this view is that the world, Bible, and our common sense wars against it because of what we see and experience. If God wanted you to have your best life now, you probably wouldn’t be on your way to heaven. God does provide what we need: Himself. However, most don’t realize that the absolute dependence we have and need to have should be on God. If He gave us all that we wanted, we’d be spoiled brats—like kids who only eat candy and ice cream—and would get sick and die.
· "God wants us to attend church and read our Bibles so that we don’t do bad things and are more “Christian.”
God is not about our begrudging submission. He offers the church, even though it is not perfect and is fractured in a fallen world that has been infested by sin. Through the church body, we can grow together, share one another’s burdens, and be submitted to Jesus (and His commands), and live in the grace and truth that He has shared with us corporately. This is not so that we can show God our attendance record when we stand before Him to give an account of our lives.
Doing bad things, or sinning (like not putting God first in our lives) is inevitable because we live in a broken world, have a fallen nature, and do not do anything inherently good without God’s leading through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Attending church makes us as much a Christian as shopping at apple makes us an iPhone. You must believe, trust, and obey God in order to be in relationship with Him. All three of those prerequisites must work together. Not one, or even two, but all three.
“God loves everyone, so everyone gets to go to heaven!”
Yes, it is true that God loves this world, especially since He sent His one and only Son into it to provide a way to know and be known by God. God is not fair—in the sense that if He were, everyone would fall short of His perfect standard. But instead of saying everyone is out, He has made a way for those who want Him—to know truly Him—through the death and resurrection of His Son.
The theory that everyone goes to heaven is probably the most ridiculous notion ever, because God is a God who does not force you to worship Him, and gives you what your heart desires. So, if you want Him, sincerely want Him, and know in the depths of your soul that He is your treasure and all that will ever be able to fill the hole in your heart, then He will give you what your heart desires. But, if you do not want Him, because you have chosen to be your own god, your own savior and lord, He will also give you what your heart desires: which is eternity without Him.
So, please know, that God is an “as you wish” God, who will not force you to follow Him, but will do more to woo us than you or I ever deserve. At the end of the day, the choice He gave us was to accept or reject Him.
“If I am religious enough, then God will be pleased with me.”
Depending on how you define “religious,” nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the first four books of the New Testament tell a completely different story. For those who were religious: Offering works-based theology to attempt to appease God made them miss the heart of who God truly is. He is not about you mindlessly doing certain things like spiritual OCD, but He is about capturing your heart, transforming it, and growing you into the image of Jesus Christ. Your white knuckling good behavior is not at all what pleases God.
Jesus did not leave the comforts of Heaven, where He was in a perfect relationship with the Father and Spirit, to live the perfect life that none of us could—to die the death that you and I should have died, based on our unwillingness to put God first in all aspects of our life.
Jesus did not rise from the dead on the third day, show Himself to His disciples and over 500 people at one time, charge his followers to share the great news that salvation could be had in spite of our sinful nature, ascend to heaven—where He currently resides at the right hand of the Father, waiting to eventually come back one day riding a white horse, with a tattoo on His thigh and bring a sword to judge the whole Earth—so that you could try harder to be a “good person.”
We need to stop thinking that God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit is a god who wants to be appeased with weak, mindless, and heartless rituals and repetitions. God is pleased by faith... faith in Him, His leading, and the future hope that can be found in Christ alone because of grace, expressed through faith in Him.
So, if you are currently in a place where “god” doesn’t seem to be real, or your “religion” doesn’t seem to be working, could I recommend something? Talk to Him; not in a “God, if you are real, show yourself!” kind of way. But in a “God, I need You, and I am willing to step out in faith, and trust your Son Jesus, with my life and eternity. I repent, I want to change my life from following my desires, and start to trust You to change my heart and direction. I trust that Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the debt that I should have paid because of my sin, and I give you my life, starting now.”
If you can say that to God honestly and without attempting to just be religious, and you mean it, I guarantee that God will meet you, use you, and change you.
If you are interested in knowing and growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ, please check out our discipleship page which exists to help you learn and mature in your faith: http://www.iamcompelled.org/discipleship/