10 Things You Can’t SAY While Following Jesus

PictureImage credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

by Mark Sandlin

 

If any list has been overdone in the Christian blogging world, it’s this list.

Just about every Christian blogger has done one and if they haven’t, they’ve thought about it and then thought better of it – because just about every Christian blogger has done one. (See what I did there?)

And yet, here we are.

You. Me. And my list of things Christians shouldn’t say. Hmmmm – must be God’s will. (And I just realized this list should have had 11 things on it. Oh, well. I have no doubt that it’s on one of the lists out there!)

Before starting my list, the editors in my head need me to say a few things, i.e. the requisite disclaimers. I do not consider this to be an exhaustive list. It’s just the list of sayings I most want to talk about right now. Also, as I’ve explained in other posts, in this “10 Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus” series, I’m not saying that people who follow Jesus don’t do these things; I’m saying that you can’t say you are following Jesus’ example when you do them. Finally, specific to this list, I think people who say these things are mostly trying to be kind, grateful and even humble when they say some of them. But if we really do want to be kind, grateful and humble we need to think about these sayings a little more – and then stop saying them.

10) Everything happens for a reason.
Implied in this is a very specific understanding of how God interacts with the world. Specifically, it says God directs all things. So, mass murders? God had a reason for that senseless act of violence. Stubbing your toe on the door frame? I guess God wanted to smite your toe.

This way of seeing God turns us all into puppets. God’s little play things who really have no freewill. Do you truly think a god needs toys? If so, do you really think we’re the best toys God could make to play with?

9) God needed another angel.
God loves you. God loves your loved ones. God is coming for your loved ones.

You think it hurt when God smote your toe? Just wait ’til God rips out your heart. But it’s OK. They needed another angel in heaven.

See? All better!

Really? No, of course not. Now that you understand what you are saying, can we just stop it?

8) God never gives us more than we can handle.
Ever tried saying this to a person contemplating suicide? No? Well, of course not.

Why? Because it is just wrong.

It’s wrong for the reason that #10 is wrong and it’s wrong because factual circumstances of living prove that sometimes this life does bring with it more than we can handle.

7) But for the grace of God, there go I.
Think about that for just a minute.

How about walking in the shoes you’re grateful not to be in for just a minute? Are they where they are because they lack the grace of God that others receive?

Does God pick and choose whom grace lands upon, intentionally withholding it from some people?

I know that people who say this don’t mean it that way, but that is what they are saying – even if indirectly. Feel free to be thankful for where you are but let’s stop heaping coals on other people’s shoulders – even if unintentionally.

6) I must be living right.
Have you ever been riding in a car when the driver pulls into a parking space right in front of the store and proclaims, “I must be living right!”?

Sure, they are half joking but keep in mind it’s only half joking. Statements like this have their roots in that nasty  “everything happens for a reason” thinking.

These are the same folks who ask God to help them win sporting events. I hate to burst the bubble but God doesn’t care which team wins or how close to the store entrance you get to park your car.

Plus, go back to #7. When you say things like this, what are you saying about the folks who had to park in that very last spot next to the shopping cart return where the car doors get all dinged up? and for that matter, if you are “living right,” why didn’t you take that spot and leave the one up front for someone else?

5) Love the sinner, hate the sin.
The problem I have with this one is the comma. It should be a period.

After further thought, I have a problem with the comma, everything that comes after it and “the sinner.”

Who am I (and who are you) to be deciding for someone else what is getting between them and God? I’m all for doing it in regard to our own lives but in someone else’s life? Hands off. Who do we think we are? God?

Now that I think about it, the problem I have with this one is that there’s not a period after love.

Love. Period.

4) It’s okay to judge.
Recently, there has been a rash of Christian bloggers defending their right to judge. I guess it’s a thing. All the cool bloggers are doing it.

I love being cool. And apparently it’s cool to judge others. So, let me judge them for trying to justify judging others. Don’t worry though – I’m loving the sinner, hating the sin when I do it. So, it’s OK. Right?

Oh, give me just a minute though. It turns out I’ve got a log in my eye. I’ll need to take care of that first.

3) Because the Bible tells me so (or “it’s in the Bible”).
The King James Bible tells me there are unicorns – 9 times.

I’m sorry, I got distracted. What was it you were telling me about using the Bible to prove a fact?

2) Have you heard about Jesus?
Seriously?

1) There are no atheists in a foxhole.
Really? There are atheists in church and you honestly think there are no atheists in foxholes?

Look, I get that the point is supposed to be that when faced with death we all turn to God. However, not only is that simply not true for everyone when faced with death, it is really bad logic.

Let me demonstrate.

When faced with death in a foxhole – grenades flying overhead and limbs being blown off the person next to me – am likely to soil my britches. It does not follow that I should always soil my britches.

In foxholes there are a whole bunch of people trying to stay alive and they pretty much don’t care what the other person believes about God. They just want to stay alive… and possibly a clean pair of britches. (See what I did there?)

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • klhayes

    10 things I hated hearing as a Christian and still hate hearing as an agnostic.

    • Lee Ebbs

      You never were a Christian.

      • WilmRoget

        Your assertion is abusive, and the sign of the sin of pride at work in your life.

  • Steve

    so how do you account for verses like 1
    Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common
    to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your
    ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of
    escape, that you may be able to endure it.” or Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of
    those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”?? both those verses clearly refute two of your points, unless you meant something else by them….

    • Madison Blane

      See number 3

    • Laurie A Wurtz VanOrder

      Temptation is clearly different from burden. Want to go have sex with your neighbors hot wife? God will help you resist that temptation. Your husband left you for the hot neighbor, daughters a drug addict, and now you have cancer? That’s a burden that may be more that you can handle. Apples and oranges, friend.

  • Joshua Steiner

    I think some of your criticisms are correct, and some are off-base. I think some of the statements you listed are moronic one-liner attempts at trying to express a nuanced and much more complicated theology of God than we could ever comprehend.

    For instance, I agree that “everything happens for a purpose/reason” is essentially a bad expression of an even worse theology. I do not, however, agree that God is somehow not sovereign over the events of the world. Even a God who does not or cannot stop mass murderers or rapists is still one that can be blamed for these events [because it brings up the question of “Why call it god?”]… It also would assume that this “god” is obligated to solve these problems on our timetable. I’m sure that God does not make evil events happen on purpose or for a specific reason [unless other wise specified; I have noticed that God throughout history has a plan even when wars and mass destruction occurs], because that would contradict what God’s will is for the world; to rid the world of evil and injustice.

    On the criticism of the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” part, I think this is where I would strongly disagree. I know this statement is usually applied to the homosexuality issue, but for me, I would apply it to other, far more pressing situations. For instance, do we hate Hitler and hate his sin of injustice? Do we love Hitler and love his sin of injustice? Absolutely not! We love Hitler, because Hitler still possesses the worth of being created in the image of God [and because we are commanded to love], but we hate his sin of injustice. I think that’s probably the prime example of why “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is absolutely true. There are other numerous instances; in practice, unless you are absolutely bigoted person or someone who has no sense of morality whatever, everyone practices this principle of “love the sinner, hate the sin”. However, you are right in a sense. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” has been misused and abused throughout history. It has been used to marginalize those who we don’t like or don’t happen to care for [sectarian mentality?] and shouldn’t be used like it is currently today.

    Actually, it IS okay to judge, precisely because Christianity is not a personal religion and it never will be. You can make it into one if you want, but it isn’t Christianity any longer. I don’t agree that it is okay to judge those outside the Church [see 1 Corinthians 5], but I do agree that Christians need to hold each other accountable, which includes a level of “judgement”. Now, I do not mean “judge” in the negative way; in which we get to declare ourselves better than another person or more worthy of God because we didn’t do that sin. That would be an immoral and perversion of what we are called to be. However, identifying sin and helping our brethren through it is necessary.

    Other than that, I think I agree with all your criticisms. And I still think you are at least partially right on the ones that I did criticize, but I do think the criticisms were sort-of off-base.

  • SaintMe

    You are an ordained minister and you don’t believe the Bible to be factual? Why, exactly, do you believe in Jesus then? From the ‘extensive’ writings of Josephus regarding Him?

    Implying that the Bible states, and believes, that there are unicorns is highly deceptive.

    • The Mystical One

      In the Catholic tradition, the books of the Bible are included because they are the books that inspire faith (it’s actually a bit deeper than this), and they aren’t so much taken as 100% literal fact. “Does this inspire faith?” “Does it lead us closer to God?”

      • SaintMe

        I was born and raised (and left) catholic, I don’t care about their “traditions”, I care about God’s word and what IT says. The books of the Bible are included because God wanted them included.
        __________________________________________________
        2 Timothy 3:16-17

        16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

        __________________________________________________

        • Guest

          None of that scriptural passage disagrees with what I said.

        • The Mystical One

          None of that scripture passage disagrees with what I said. Nor, for that matter, does what you said disagree.

          • SaintMe

            Really? How can something be “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” when it can’t be trusted? Instead of calling it God’s Word, let’s just call it god’s word…maybe…

            God breathed is God breathed and the Bible is either true or it is not.

          • Scarlet

            It sounds like you don’t understand a) literal b) hermeneutics c) faith

            I don’t believe Lord of the Rings is factual, but I can certainly pull out great morals and teaching points from it. I don’t believe that devotional material is “god breathed” but certainly they are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”.

            Are you saying that either Lord of the Rings is true and factual, or we can’t gain ANYthing from stories and all books should be burned for heresy? I mean, it’s either true or it’s not….

          • SaintMe

            It sounds like you just don’t understand…

          • The Mystical One

            Who said it can’t be trusted? Are all of Jesus’s parables 100% actual happenings or are they stories he told to illustrate a truth about faith and God? Why can’t the contents of the Bible also be the same?

            The contents of the four Gospels differ here and there. The importance is the message of faith given by the divinely-inspired author.

        • Capiscan

          So how come the Catholic bible has 7 books that the Protestant bible does not? Does God love the Catholics that bit more? Or does He think they need the extra help?

    • Nicole Lenz
  • donatelife

    I’m dying from kidney disease. Al my family says these things to me and I really wish they wouldn’t.

  • Nicole Lenz

    To:Mark Sadlin,

    It must be written somewhere that all awesome Ministers are geeks! My brother is a Baptist Minister, currently on a mission in Latvia with his wife, 3 kids and extensive Star Trek Collection! Thank you for this article, I couldn’t agree more…well I could but then….LOL

    <3 Nicole (A Proud Christian Leftist)

  • Laurie A Wurtz VanOrder

    Fantastic! This is the first I’ve seen from you, and I’m pleased to have found you!

  • Lee Ebbs

    More lies from a lost soul.

    • WilmRoget

      Your false accusation is sin. Please repent.