Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #3

February 10, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

So after an overwhelming successful first episode and a moderately successful second, what do you to keep the franchise going in episode 3?  Most franchises will just wrap up the story.  Done well–Lord of the Rings, Return of the Jedi.  Done not so well–Back to the Future, Revenge of the Sith (My brother and I disagree on both of these).  You can also just overwhelm your 3rd episode with every conceivable villain and destroy the franchise– Batman Forever (The verdict is still out on Spiderman 3. It did the same thing.)  You can give up and let monkeys write the script–Superman III (Part of me wants to put Godfather III here but I kinda liked it).  Finally, you can introduce Mr. T to the world and dominate–Rocky III.

What does this have to do with this post?  Nothing.  Let’s move on.

Set-up:  You or another Christian have been exposed in some way as hypocritical and not living up to the ideals of Christian living.  (Or you could simply be looking for a cutesy, quippy (it’s back!) bumper sticker or cross stitch pattern)

Response:  Christians aren’t perfect.  They are just forgiven.

It’s hard for me to really imagine that someone would actually say this out loud.  I know that I have seen the bumper sticker, but surely no one has actually said this.  What is the context?  What argument were you trying to win? What point are you trying to make?

Let’s break this down.  First of all, there is really nothing theologically wrong with either part of the statement.  Christians are not perfect–agreed.  Christians are forgiven–agreed.  So it is a true statement, but the question is why do you say it?  If you are saying this to yourself or a Christian friend, in order to protect yourself or your friend from the trappings of perfectionist legalism, then OK.

However, it would seem that it is used more as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to innoculate Christians from criticism when we fail morally.  “Well, we never claimed to be perfect.”  That is all well and good unless we are conistently condemning the world around us for not living up to our standards, and then if we fail, we start waving the “forgiven card” around as if that makes our failings OK. 

What we should say should if we are the ones who have been busted is something along the lines of “I’m sorry.  I’m embarassed.  Will you forgive me?”  If it is some public figure, “I’m disappointed.  I hate it when we don’t live up to the standards God has for us.”  We are not perfect, but our forgiveness is not license or a pass.  If you want to say something quippy say, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.”  At least there is some implied humility in that statement.

(Deep breath)  Listen, I don’t want anyone to feel they have to be perfect, or worse, pretend to be perfect.  However, God is calling us up to be better, to be more like His Son.  The forgiveness he offers always gives us one more chance, but we should not, can not take that lightly.  We certainly can not view it as a license or permission for sin.  Instead, let the grace and love that he shows us motivate us to have a heart of gratitude and to be people that hear him say, “Well, done, good and faithful servant.” Matt 25:14-30


3 Responses to “Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #3”
  1. Megan says:

    This is one of those phrases that I think qualifies as something Christians need to stop saying specifically to non-Christians. Even though it sounds humble, it’s really not. It’s like saying, “I’m no different that you, I’ve just got everything figured out and you don’t.” It’s trying to relate to the common man but falls way short. And it assumes that everyone wants to be a Christian, if only they could get there act together like us forgiven ones.

    But here’s the rub: non-Christians are not pining away to be like us. Most of the time, they want nothing to do with us. We are weird, judgmental, arrogant, and get in their way of actually seeing the true God. The fact that we have a phrase denying our perfection, really gets at the state of our own hearts, not others.

    I read this on Stuff Christians Like, and think it applies here too:
    “I argued that for some people, Christianity is like a bully learning a new form of karate, it’s just one more way for me to beat you up.”

  2. cloften says:

    Good word Megan. We would do well if we stopped defending our shortcomings with the doctrine of forgiveness and instead showed humility. It is hard for me to understand how we can say that we are forgiven and have such an arrogant attitude when we say that. We can manage to pull it off though. We need to stop.

  3. Grobmyer says:

    Christians – By Maya Angelou 

    When I say… “I am a Christian” 
I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”
I’m whispering “I was lost, 
Now I’m found and forgiven.” 

    When I say…. “I am a Christian” 
I don’t speak of this with pride. 

    I’m confessing that I stumble 
and need Christ to be my guide. 

    When I say… “I am a Christian” 
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak 
And need His strength to carry on. 

    When I say… “I am a Christian 
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed 
And need God to clean my mess. 

    When I say… “I am a Christian” 
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible 
But, God believes I am worth it. 

    When I say… “I am a Christian” 
I still feel the sting of pain. 

    I have my share of heartaches 
So I call upon His name.

When I say… “I am a Christian” 
I’m not holier than thou, 

    I’m just a simple sinner 
Who received God’s good grace, somehow! 

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