This may come as a shock to you, but did you know that Christians lie? Yup, we do. In fact, our pastor recently listed five lies we commonly tell, things we say in the church that really are downright falsehoods. While we all laughed as he expounded on each item, at the same time I bet a lot of people were convicted—I know I was! I thought our pastor’s insights were worth sharing, so here we go:
Five Christian Lies and Exaggerations, by Brady Boyd
5. “I love you.” (Or, “I love you, brother.”) Now, this may not be a common phrase in your church, but I have certainly heard this in ours. Of course we’re all supposed to love one another, but do we really? How sincere are we when we say this? All too often I get a mental image of a smarmy salesperson trying to get a foot in the door of my heart. They sound oh-so spiritual! I try to reserve this phrase for someone I really, truly care deeply for—my cat, my family and my closest friends. (If I tell you I love you, you can be sure I truly mean it!)
4. “It’s great to see you!” Sometimes this statement is true. But… I know there have been times when the person walking up to me is the absolute last person I want to see. I just don’t have the patience to hear all their problems, or to try and sound enthusiastic as they recount their recent three month vacation to their second cousin’s house in Kansas. Yet there I go, wanting to look like the cheerful Christian who loves the church.
I’d love suggestions for an alternative to this statement. It just doesn’t sound right to exclaim, “Oh no, not you again!” and telling them I have to go shampoo my dog would just be substituting one lie for another.
3. “I’m doing great.” We could be having the worst week of our lives—we just got fired, the bank is foreclosing, our teenager just flunked tenth grade, the cat has fleas, and the dog just got run over. Yet we smile brightly and assure the other person we’re doing just fine, thank you.
True, they probably don’t want to hear all our problems, and we’re not anxious to spill our misery on someone we don’t know very well. But isn’t there something else we can say that’s a tad more accurate? Be a bit more creative. Lately Pete has taken to saying, “Oh, we’re surviving!” (If you read my recent post about our computer woes, you can see why he might say that.) Or, you could smile and say that life is hard but God is bigger.
2. “I’ll pray for you.” Oh yeah. What else do you say when someone asks you to pray for them? If I actually prayed fervently for every concern I’m asked to pray for, I’d spend my entire life on my knees. I’ve actually thought about this issue, and have arrived at some helpful pointers.
If someone asks me to pray for them, and God hasn’t prompted me to take this on as a prayer focus, I simply pray right then and there. Now I don’t have to remember to do it later, and the situation has been covered in prayer.
If this is an issue that resonates with me, I’ll tell the person that I will pray for them again every time God prompts me to do so. And I do. On the rare occasion the Holy Spirit burdens my spirit for the prayer request, then I tell the person I’ll pray for them. In that case, I often can’t think about much else until the prayer is answered one way or another, so it’s easy to remember to follow through.
We can help others tell the truth by not asking questions that put them on the spot. Be judicious in who you ask for prayer. Don’t weigh people down with issues you should be praying for yourself. And, if you don’t really want to know how someone is doing, don’t ask—they just might tell you!
And now for the most common lie in the church, and perhaps in the world…
1. Clicking the box next to “I have read the privacy statement…”