I love being a part of the local Church and being surrounded by other Christians. But there are some things we need to knock off.
Here are a few:
1. Saying Christian Platitudes
Often when we are encountered with a situation where we don’t know what to say we spout off something that we that don’t really know what it means, but it sounds Christian. “Everything Happens for a Reason,” “God got another angel,” or “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” don’t help the situation. These sayings really don’t help anybody or point anyone to Jesus. They come off as fake when what the person actually needs is for us to be real.
Now look, some of these sayings are true, or at least have a little bit of truth in them. But blindly quoting this in situations doesn’t help. Let’s stop saying this to people and just be real and honest. When in a situation where we don’t know what to say it’s okay to say nothing and just sit there with the person. Our actions speak much louder anyway.
2. Saying “I’ll pray for you” Instead Of Doing Something
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I’ll pray for you” and never actually prayed. I’ve found most of the time people have a simple need that we are unwilling to meet so instead of acting we just say “I’ll pray for you” and move on.
I’m not trying to put pray down. I think we should always, without exception, start with prayer. But our prayers should be followed up with action. Our prayers should have us decide our actions. If you are one of the rare people that actually spends time praying for the people they say they will, keep doing that. But for the rest of us consider this. The next time you encounter a situation where you are tempted to say this, say it, then do something about it.
3. Creating Christian Subcultures
Following Jesus is hard, and if we do we will take shots. Jesus promised that what happened to Him will happen to us. But that doesn’t mean that we should withdraw from culture and create our own subcultures. The world needs us, and to do that we need not withdraw from culture but rather engage it. Jesus told us to be in the world, but not let the world define us. He didn’t tell us to shy away from everything.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t create or do anything. I’m saying that Christians shouldn’t create subcultures; they should be adding to our culture.
Here’s a great article on this: Should We Make Christian Movies?
4. Policing The World’s Behaviors
Christians are known for pointing out what is wrong with the world while ignoring what is in the mirror. God gave us his word not as ammo to shoot others but as a window into our own souls. We should be known as people that aggressively love and care for the world. Not one that points out every individual sin.
We’ve written on this before: Christians, Stop Being the Moral Police
5. Saying “I’m Good” When You’re Not
Every week churches are filled with people. Throughout the mid week people gather in small groups, Bible studies, and other fellowship events. Inevitably the question “How are you doing?” or “How was your week?” will come up in conversation. Almost without exception, the answer fired back is “I’m good” or sometimes “Busy.” We’ve got to start being more honest with each other.
There is power in being a part of the Church, the Body of Christ. But it’s not found in just singing a few songs, listening to a sermon we will forget by days end, and then heading home. It’s found in doing life together. It’s found in celebrating good times and mourning difficult seasons together. One of the biggest blessings God has given you and me is the ability to do life with others. But we often choose to tell everyone we are “good” when really we aren’t. We turn away the community God has provided instead of embracing it.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16
The trend of saying we are fine when we are not has to change. It will start when you say enough. The next time someone at church asks you how you are answer honestly. Be open, honest, and vulnerable with those you trust. Let God help you through the difficult seasons by providing others to make the trek with you.
6. Doing Good Things For God’s Approval
As a pastor I see a lot of people trying to live good lives not because they want to, but because they feel obligated to. This puts an unnecessary burden on us. God didn’t save you so that you would be in debt to him and owe him work. He’s not holding what He did for you over your head so that he can coarse you into following him. He saved you because he wants to be in a relationship with you.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
Stop doing things to try and earn God’s approval or get salvation. No amount of good deeds will ever be enough. By your own deeds you are hopeless. It’s only by God’s grace we are saved and it’s by His unconditional love we are accepted. Now does that mean that we don’t do good deeds? No! But we don’t do them for approval. We do them out of an overflowing of all that’s been done to us.
7. Worshiping Gifts And Not The Giver
I think are all guilty of this more than we care to admit. God gives us something good, and we take the gift and totally forget who gave it to us. Whether it be a job, a relationship, money, vacations, or even our kids, they are all gifts from God. And then all can become a “god” in our lives. Instead of worshiping those good things we need to worship the one who gave them to us.
These things don’t benefit the church, and they aren’t helping us become more like Jesus. These things limit our relationships with each other and with God.