Christianese Language: Making People Hopeless

In the hopes of helping others we often say and do things that actually make people more hopeless than the already are.  We have good motives for doing this.  People are hurting and we want to help them, but these people are actually hurting so much that they can’t even tell you that what you said just made them feel worse.

I want to refer to this as Christian-ese Language.  These are words that Christians have picked up and use to help others.  We may or may not even know whether these words have a Biblical foundation.  We may or may not even know if they really give people hope through their trials.

Today I want to address:  Lay it down at the altar

There is the belief that I can walk forward at church and lay down my troubles or sin at the altar.  When I have “really” done that I will be free.  At least until I leave that service?

I have thought long and hard about how I can lay down things at the altar.  No matter how hard I try it just doesn’t happen. I may pray at the altar, which is helpful, but the minute I get in my car after church my problems are waiting for me.  So did I not lay it down at the altar?  If I did, did I pick it back up?

God left us specific instructions for living through this life.  He didn’t leave us to guess.  This is important because the way He set out for us to handle problems provides hope, and the way we set out for people leads them to hopelessness.

God call us to suffer

1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

We are called to suffer.  It will end when it has served it’s purpose in our lives.  Not when we decide to walk away from it or lay it down.

Suffering has a purpose

1 Peter 2:23 “He did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly”

When we suffer we entrust ourselves to Christ.  We trust Him, and acknowledge that He is doing a great work through our suffering.  We can and should pray at the altar when we suffer, praying that God would deliver us from the suffering and use it to make us more like Him.  One prayer at altar does not take away the suffering.

Please don’t place a yoke around your fellow believers.  Making them believe that magic can happen around a physical altar.  It will throw them into utter hopelessness.  Yes pray at the altar, and pray for deliverance, but realize that like Job, you may suffer for a time.  Job prayed, but it wasn’t one of his magical prayers that ended his trial.  It was God.

What to do?

God provides us instructions for living.

  1. Pray without ceasing.  All the time.
  2. Serve and love others.  All the time.
  3. Read and study His word.  All the time.
  4. Fellowship with believers.  All the time.
  5. Trust God during your trial.  This is a choice.  Make it.
  6. Be obedient.  God expects obedience during the trial.  Keep doing the work you are to do, at home and on the job.  This will help you move forward.
  7. Keep praying at the altar, but expect God to deliver you, not your act.

I have seen fellow believers weighed down by language that imprisons them.  The Christian life is hard, and God really gave us a way to live through it.  His way gives people hope and only His way.  If we tell someone to leave something at the altar, and then they don’t do that we are adding guilt to their suffering.  Christ wants to give them hope.

Jesus Christ says to Christian.  I suffered.  My father has determined you shall suffer like me.  Yet, I have ways for you to live through it.  These ways require that you still feel pain and sadness, but in that I AM WORKING AND MOLDING YOU TO BE LIKE ME.  Do not frett. As my Father ended Job’s trial, He will end yours.  I will never leave you.  Trust in me and I will strengthen you.

Thoughts and musings as I too suffer.

Marcy Pedersen


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