Pastor Chris Tweitmann
Part of our fallibility as human beings is our tendency not to think before we speak. When we are passionate about a subject of conversation that, perhaps, isn’t going the way we believe it should, we feel compelled to say something. Someone we care about continues to struggle or hurt and out of our desire to help – to fix the situation – we cannot stop ourselves from offering some advice.
If a moment becomes awkward or tense, or if a conversation suddenly goes silent, we are overwhelmed by the need to cut the tension, fill the silence, or ease the pain. The words we speak in these moments are usually respectable. In opening our mouths, what we seek to offer is well-meaning and good natured. Typically, the words we use in such situations are words we’ve heard before. We all have our catchphrases – our go-to pearls of wisdom and perspective in the midst of the struggles and the brokenness of life. Sometimes these adages are our own personal creation but more often than not we are quoting something we’ve heard before.
Such advice makes sense to us. That such words have so often been repeated adds to their credibility as well as their universal application. Therefore, we don’t hesitate in sharing such advice – even if the other person didn’t specifically ask for it. Because we are just passing along what we’ve heard before, we don’t stop and question the authenticity and validity of what we are saying. And this is how well-intentioned words become platitudes and clichés.
As Christians, we tend to do this a lot. In the face of another’s disappointment, confusion, and/or suffering, our response is to deliver a biblical soundbite. Out of self-professed love and care for another person, we extend nuggets of wisdom and perspective from scripture. The problem is much of what we say in the name of Jesus, Christ never said in the first place. We hear, believe, and tell others, so-called divine truths we can’t specifically reference from the scriptures and have not carefully examined ourselves.
Currently, we are in the middle of sermon series called “Jesus Never Said That,” in an attempt to remedy this problem. Our focus has been to consider a popular statement associated with Christ and to evaluate it both in light of what Jesus actually said and how He walks before us. As people of the Gospel, we need to be sure what we are expressing to others through our words and actions is the truth – the good, rather than fake, news. Anything less is to misrepresent Jesus and thereby, lead others away from, rather than, towards Him.
Two “sacred cows” already have been put out to pasture but there are still a few more cattle left in the barn. This Sunday, we will wrangle with a popular Christian cliché that serves to provide an answer in the midst of the unknown. Typically, this phrase is carelessly thrown out in an attempt to resolve unfathomable suffering. However, it also can be tossed out to account for something annoyingly trivial – like not being able to find an open parking space or accidentally losing one’s keys. Either way, this oft repeated statement, intended to provide comfort, ends up doing more harm than benefit to others.
It’s time to stop repeating the same old misguided and incorrect advice as biblical truth. This weekend, instead of being quick to speak, let us learn to listen to what Jesus actually said. Together let us dare to confront a reality we often choose to ignore – that not everything that happens to us and around us is the way it’s supposed to be. For it is only when we face the truth of the darkness and suffering of this world that we will recognize the deeper and greater light and salvation of Jesus Christ.
Grace to you!