A Jesus Juke is No Joke! How Not to Be an Annoying Christian

A Jesus Juke is No Joke! How Not to Be an Annoying Christian February 8, 2024

Nobody likes a Jesus juke—except the jokers who juke the juked. “What’s a Jesus Juke?” Read on as I discuss how not to be annoying.

Two women seated in proximity to each other, looking in different directions as if one said something unbelievable.
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels

In sports, particularly in American football or basketball, a “juke” is a quick, deceptive move made by a player to fake out an opponent. For example, a running back in football might use a juke to quickly change direction and avoid a tackle. A “Jesus juke does the same thing—only nobody sees it as clever except the one doing the juking.

 

What’s a Jesus Juke?

A “Jesus juke” is a conversational maneuver where someone takes a seemingly unrelated topic and brings it back to Jesus or Christianity. The person awkwardly steers a conversation towards a moral or religious point, to make a spiritual statement or emphasize a Christian perspective. The term “Jesus juke” is often used as a joke to call out those instances where someone rudely uses a religious reference to shift the focus of a conversation abruptly. For example, if people are discussing a mundane topic, and someone interjects with a religious anecdote or moral lesson, that might be considered a Jesus juke.

 

Here are a few examples of Jesus jukes:

Maybe you’ve never heard the term “Jesus juke,” but if you’ve been around Christians, I guarantee you’ve heard them used in conversation. Here are a few examples:

Sports Conversation:

Original Topic: Discussing a recent football game.

Jesus Juke: “Oh, speaking of touchdowns, did you know Jesus is the ultimate MVP in my life?”

Weather Discussion:

Original Topic: Talking about the sunny weather.

Jesus Juke: “This beautiful weather reminds me of God’s love shining down on us. Have you considered the warmth of His embrace?”

Movie Chat:

Original Topic: Sharing thoughts on a new movie.

Jesus Juke: “That movie was entertaining, but you know what’s even more thrilling? The story of Jesus and his miracles!”

Job-related Talk:

Original Topic: Discussing a colleague’s promotion.

Jesus Juke: “Congratulations on your promotion! It’s a great achievement, but let’s not forget to give glory to God for opening doors and blessing us in our careers.”

Travel Conversation:

Original Topic: Planning a vacation.

Jesus Juke: “Vacations are fantastic, but have you ever considered taking a spiritual journey with Jesus? It’s the ultimate destination!”

Food Discussion:

Original Topic: Talking about favorite cuisines.

Jesus Juke: “I love a good meal too! It reminds me of the feast we’ll have in heaven. Have you thought about the banquet that awaits believers?”

 

What Motivates a Jesus Juke?

I know someone who uses Jesus jukes in conversation all the time. Maybe you do, too. They have no idea how annoying they are! There are a few reasons someone might use a Jesus juke. Their reason can depend on the individual and the context. Here are some possible motivations:

  • Evangelism or Sharing Faith: In my Evangelical church growing up, we were literally encouraged to Jesus juke people to share our faith with others. Many Christians see everyday conversations as opportunities to introduce spiritual or religious perspectives, whether they’re wanted or not.
  • Desire to Connect: The person might be trying to find common ground or establish a deeper connection by bringing the conversation to a more meaningful or personal level. They may believe that discussing spiritual matters can foster a closer bond.
  • Cultural Conditioning: Some people come from backgrounds where it is common to integrate religious themes into various aspects of life. Using Jesus jukes could be a learned behavior influenced by cultural or social norms. As I’m a former pastor who now works in a secular workplace, I’m aware that I’m probably guilty of juking my coworkers for this reason. It’s something I’m working on.
  • Seeking Relevance: Some people may use Jesus jukes as a way to make their faith relevant in everyday situations. They might believe that connecting religious principles to daily experiences makes their faith more accessible and relatable.
  • Response to Circumstances: Certain situations, such as personal successes or challenges, may prompt individuals to bring up religious or spiritual matters as a way of expressing gratitude, seeking support, or finding meaning in their experiences. This may be significant for them, even if it isn’t meaningful for their hearers.
  • Comfort Zone: For some individuals, discussing religious topics might be within their comfort zone. It could be a default mode of communication or a way to express their worldview.
  • Social Pressure: In some church cultures, there is pressure to outwardly express your faith. For this reason, some folks from these churches may feel compelled to inject religious references into conversations, even if it feels forced or awkward.
  • Something to Prove: Sometimes, people employ a Jesus juke to demonstrate how holy they are. They want you to know that their mind is on spiritual matters all the time. Even when they’re with fellow Christians, these people use Jesus jukes to show that they’re more spiritual than other believers. At least, that’s the way it comes across to their hearers.

 

Of course, the motivations behind using a Jesus juke can vary. If, like me, this list makes you take a second look at yourself as a Christian communicator, that’s a good thing. It’s important to consider the context and the comfort level of the people involved in the conversation. Genuine and respectful communication is more likely to be well-received. Forcing religious discussions may lead to misunderstandings or discomfort.

 

Why a Jesus Juke is No Joke

Jesus jukes are annoying because they can feel insincere or manipulative. In social interactions, people generally appreciate authentic and genuine conversations. When someone tries to inject a religious point into a conversation that doesn’t naturally lend itself to such a spiritual topic, it can come across as forced or opportunistic. It may also disrupt the flow of the conversation and make others feel uncomfortable or pressured.

Sharing your faith is a personal choice. But effective communication often depends on the context, timing, and sensitivity to your audience. Using a Jesus juke is a clumsy attempt to bring up religious matters and may not resonate well with others in the conversation. So, consider your audience before you make that religious reference that feels so relevant to you.

 

For related reading, check out my other articles:

About Gregory T. Smith
I live in the beautiful Fraser Valley of British Columbia and work in northern Washington State as a behavioral health specialist with people experiencing homelessness and those who are overly involved in the criminal justice system. Before that, I spent over a quarter-century as lead pastor of several Virginia churches. My newspaper column, “Spirit and Truth” ran in Virginia newspapers for fifteen years. I am one of fourteen contributing authors of the Patheos/Quoir Publishing book “Sitting in the Shade of another Tree: What We Learn by Listening to Other Faiths.” I hold a degree in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and also studied at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. My wife Christina and I have seven children between us, and we are still collecting grandchildren. You can read more about the author here.
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