If you grew up in a Christian culture like me, you probably have used many of these phrases. Even though you had a good intention behind saying it, the effect was minimal, if not detrimental. These are very often used as empty filler phrases and turn out to sound Christianese to those who are not attuned to a Jesus culture. I hereby declare for the good of mankind and for the glory of God that today be the day when Christians stop saying these four phrases:
1. I Will Pray For You. How many times have you said this to your fellow brother or sister but have not actually prayed for them, ever. Why do we feel the need to say this, every time we hear someone who has a need? If we say this just to avoid the awkward silence, we need to stop. Unless you are going to go all Epaphras on your brother or sister, listen attentively and speak less.
2. He or She Is In A Better Place. Almost five years ago my dad went to be with Jesus after a fight with cancer. I can’t tell you how many times people said this to me. Do you really know what is a better place for my dad? A better place is with me, having coffee and discussing theology. A better place is at Christmas dinner surrounded by son, daughters, wife and grandkids. A better place is being able to see me graduate seminary or being there at church when I got ordained. Again, we speak with such authority like we know what that better place is. Sometimes, instead of using this empty filler phrase, we just need to be still and spend time with the grieving person.
3. Everything Happens For A Reason. If we are really honest with ourselves, most of what happens in our life is pretty unreasonable. How do you explain faith in Jesus or that miracle you experienced in your family. It is hard to put that into words. What about a tragedy or a catastrophe? How would a family member feel if you told them that their son or daughter who were killed in a car wreck was all a part of God’s magnificent plan. Most certainly it was. But was it reasonable? Not in the least bit. We can’t dismiss a monumental life event with such a flippant phrase.
4. When Are You Getting Married and/or When Are You Having Kids? This is probably the worst phrase(s) that people of faith use and mis-use habitually. I have noticed that I barely ever hear this from people who don’t subscribe to a faith at all.
Why is it that all of a sudden we begin to treat singleness as a disease of some sort. If we recall, both Jesus and Paul were single. Are people who are whatever age and single considered second class citizens in the church? Absolutely not. In fact, they probably have even more time and energy to devote to the cause of Christ.
Along the same lines, the most insensitive and non-Christian thing you can ask another couple is when they are having kids. How do you know that couple did not just go through a miscarriage and you are once again reminding them of the pain and grief associated with that. What if the woman had an abortion? What if the couple is infertile and can’t ever have kids. There are a million more reasons why these two questions are as insensitive as can be, but you get the picture. So we need to do a huge favor to our fellow brothers and sisters and outdo one another in showing honor – by doing something very simple: Stop asking these questions.
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Question: What other questions would you add to this list that Christians should stop asking?