Mind Your Christianese Language

Be mindful of the language you use, allow it to be culturally relevant yet honouring!

Are you expecting everyone in your world to speak your language? Don’t you think that’s a bit unfair?

John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Phil 2:3-7 – “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.”

Repentance, grace, sanctification, the lost, hell, conviction, long-suffering, righteousness, body of Christ, spiritual warfare, the enemy, witnessing, the Good News, burden, laid on my heart, redemption, kingdom of God, salvation, old man, new man, fruit of the Spirit, sin, worthy is the Lamb, first Adam, mercy, spiritual growth, feeling led, born again, discernment, saved. If you have followed Jesus for a few years, you have a good understanding of all these words and the concepts behind them. You have a decent grasp of when and where to apply these Christian terms when you speak to your fellow believers; you’ve become fluent in the functional language of Christianity.

Those outside the body of Christ have little, if any, understanding of the jargon of the Kingdom. The majority of North Americans no longer attend church regularly. Secular schools don’t teach Christian terminology. The language of Christians, or “Christianese,” is foreign to non-believers.

If we want to bring others into the kingdom and see them grow and flourish, we must take on the same mind as Christ as Paul wrote to the Philippians. As we consider each person above ourselves, we grow in the ability to prefer others above ourselves. After all, if a friend who spoke another language invited you to an event at his cultural centre, you would hope that your friend would translate for you. You would wish that his friends would not exclude you from their conversations. You would hope that the blank look on your face would be a cue to those around you that the conversation is way over your head.

More times than not, new believers are thrown into the water without a life jacket and are expected to learn the ‘new language’ by osmosis. I once witnessed an online conversation between a newborn Christian and several seasoned believers who bombarded her with scriptures containing many of the terms I listed above. She floundered. I could sense hopelessness and frustration growing within her. I tried to explain some of the terminologies, but the scriptures and terms flew past so fast, I stepped out of the conversation, not wanting to add more confusion. I began to pray.

Although her new friends wanted to help her, I am not sure that their advice was practical. When she mentioned that she didn’t understand the concepts mentioned, they instructed her to put on the helmet of salvation and to renew her mind. Great advice, if only she had an understanding of Ephesians 6 and Romans 12.

I messaged her the next day and apologised for the chaos, then asked her if she understood anything anyone had said to her. Her gracious response was, “Not much, but I guess I’ll get the hang of it sooner or later.”

I spent a few minutes with her and answered her questions. I didn’t mind as it kept me on my toes. When I explain Christian terms in a language that new believers or unbelievers can understand, the Lord gives me a fresh perspective of the rudiments of my faith.

1 Peter 3:15 – “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Personal Application

Here’s a little exercise for you today. Try to explain what salvation is without using the terms ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’. If you do have to use them, define them in a way that someone who has never heard those words could understand.

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Until Next Week,

©2019 Katherine Walden

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