Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #2

Can the sequel ever match the enthusiasm of the original?  Godfather II was really good as was Empire Strikes Back, and The Two Towers.  However, for every Dark Knight, there is a Teen Wolf II, so we’ll see.

Setup:  Someone is having a hard time overcoming an obstacle of some kind.  They are wanting to have victory over sin, make a change in their life, but they can’t.

Response:  “Well, you just need to let go and let God.”

First of all, I am not a huge fan of quippy.  None of my sermon points ever all start with the letter C, and they certainly do not spell a word.  (In order to blog you need to Believe, Love, Obfuscate and Google.)  That by itself is enough to make me want to punt “Let go and let God.”  I prefer “Go heavy or go home.” 

Secondly, what does that mean anyway?  That is the problem with the overly quippy expressions, to make it short and cute, you sacrifice depth and meaning.  I can only assume that what is being encouraged is some level of passivity and release.  I need to stop working, and let God do the work. 

Let’s break this down.  God is the one that changes people’s hearts and gives the strength to overcome obstacles.  God brings healing in your marriage, restores relationships with your kids, breaks you free from addictions, etc.  Galatians 5 makes it clear that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to live the lives that God has called us to.  There is a battle going on inside of us and we are often on the wrong side.  So, we need to “let God” change us and lead us.

There is even a smidge (love that word) of truth to “let go.”  Luke 9:23 says we need to deny ourselves.  However, what is said next is “take up your cross and follow me.”  “Let go” is completely passive, but there is nothing passive about taking up your cross and following God.  Being totally dependent on God still means that we need to pray and read his word so he can speak into our lives. 

There are specific commands that God gives us, choices that we have to make.  I can just walk away from temptation.  I can stop yelling at my kids, putting down my wife, gossiping at work, looking at inappropriate websites.  I have my part.  When “letting go” encourages helplessness, we have gone too far in believing that everything depends on God.  This can be convenient blame-shifting.  (Before you get to0 mad, know that “God helps those who help themselves” will be coming at some point.)

Make no mistake, you desperately need God in your life.  If you do not let God change your heart and learn to depend on him, you will struggle.  However, if you think that you can just sit there and your life will change, you will struggle just the same.

We have to trust in a God that gives us the strength, courage, and motivation to make the changes in our lives we so desperately need to make, but we have to make the right choices to pursue God and do what is right if we want to have real victory.  (See, that’s not quippy at all.)


8 Responses to “Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #2”
  1. El Davo Grande says:

    Indeed. I think you could write a whole series on all the Benjamin Franklinisms that are still used in the church as Scripture, e.g. Cleanliness is next to godliness, God helps those who help themselves, Et tu Brute, Dang, that lightening sucks.

  2. Aaron Reddin says:

    Freakin’ love that you’re doing these. Hope they are widely read.

    This one is great. For some reason think that sin paralyzes us. That we are completely powerless on our own. From an eternal perspective, sure. From a practical, everyday life perspective, no.

    If I’m made in the image of God, know Jesus, and actually believe Galatians 5:16 then it’s not always a matter of just “letting God”. I do my part (follow the HS), and the result? I WON’T be doing the other crap. Simple as that.

    Anyway, some may call me a heretic. I’m perfectly ok with that. It’s just a follow up comment. Not a full post in itself. ;)

    Oh, and did you ever call my grandma and tell her we aren’t all going to hell?

  3. Karen says:

    How have I missed that you have a blog, Charlie?

    And I couldn’t agree more…down with quippy!

  4. Megan says:

    Do you remember that bumper sticker skit Hendrix did at Christmas Conference ‘98? You were giving the talk and asked us to come up with a skit about such phrases. “Let go, and let God” was one of the phrases we used. As was “God is my co-pilot” and “if God is your co-pilot, you need to move over.”

    I also remember during the preparation of that skit, you told us a great piece of advice, “It’s only funny if TWO people think so.” I’ve carried that with me ever since. :)

    About Let go, and Let God, I certainly agree that quippy phrases lack depth and can be misleading, but I want to talk about another way to interpret it here. I think it’s not always used as an answer to some sin problem that someone is having, but a general reminder that God is in control and we are not. People like me who want to be in control of our own lives at all times have trouble relinquishing that control to God. For me it’s not a free pass to be passive and shirk any and all responsibility for my own short-comings, it just points me to God’s sovereignty in my life.

    When I give any thought to such phrases anymore, that is. Usually the problem with quippy Christianity is that even if it has some value (and Biblical truth) initially, it is so overused that it helps exactly no one anymore.

  5. cloften says:

    Megan, you are dominating with your comments. If you ever want to shoot me a guest blog post, I would drop it on here in a heartbeat.

    I feel what you’re saying about a surrender to God’s sovereignty. “Let go and let God” can be a good word to control freaks. Doesn’t it need one more phrase at the end though? Something that reminds us that follow is an active not a passive verb. The problem is follow doesn’t start with “L.” But if you said this it would have a lot of “L” sounds: Let go, let God, follow well.”

    Seriously, I don’t like quippy.

    One more thing, it needs to be two different people that think it’s funny. Chris Daniel and Shane Wanamaker thinking something is funny, doesn’t count as two people. :)

  6. Megan says:

    Sure, that’d be kick awesome–as you Central Arkansans like to say. Thoughts on a topic? Something in this series, perhaps?

  7. Amanda says:

    So great, Charlie…this one has always bugged me! I love that you pointed out that taking up our cross and following him is not passive. We all fall into passive Christian living…every day…and really living authentic Christianity is active, life-giving, and oftentimes, very difficult. What a great reminder today…and I needed it TODAY…that just knowing about Him and saying I believe all these things about Him is WAY different than really living it and being truly changed by it. Choosing to believe it, live in light of what I say I believe, making the choices that line up with it, etc…
    Thanks for the reminder that we cannot “just sit there and and your life will change.”

  8. Melynn says:

    This is a slogan used in 12 step programs. It makes sense within the context of those programs, where footwork (doing your part) is just as important as letting go. A lot of things in 12 step programs are “quippy.” But those programs work wonders.

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