If you’re a Christian, you might not have noticed that we have a lot of weird Christian phrases. If you’re not a Christian, then you have definitely noticed some of the strange sayings we like to use.
We’re here to help people decipher the mysterious language of Christianese by breaking down common Christian phrases in the sixth part of this new series.
“I don’t feel led”
Have you ever asked a Chrstian friend about a decision they need to make and they respond with “I don’t feel led to…”? Or have you said this yourself? Like most Christian phrases, we understand there is a good heart behind it, but it’s actually misguided.
Saying, “I don’t feel led” to do something puts the burden of responsibility of your decision on God. Instead, you need to be honest about what you do or do not want to do. It’s great if your motivations for a decision are based on what you think God would want you to do, but it’s kind of blasphemous and dishonest to presume His will and avoid stating a decision by essentially shifting the responsibility to God.
“Everything happens for a reason”
Like many of the phrases we explore, this one can be a bit tricky. On one hand, Christians believe that God is omniscient and has a grand plan that all things work together toward:
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
- Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)
However, wisdom in the Bible also states that there is chaos and there are elements of unknown or injustice that exist and baffle us:
But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do — busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time — but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.
- Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (MSG)
Despite his uncertainty when writing Ecclesiastes, even Solomon admits that God is ultimately in control, that we cannot know what He is planning and what is part of His plan. In other words, there might be some things that just happen because they happen, not because they are part of a grand plan.
Ultimately, you need to be careful when using this phrase. Often, we use it to comfort someone in a time of disaster or grief. However, this can lead to confusion. Someone might think, “If all things happen for a reason, God must hate me for doing this.”
Think critically when comforting others, and try to say what they really need to hear instead of spouting banal phrases.
“The Bible clearly says”
It does not.
Oh, OK, we’ll break it down a little.
Essentially, the Bible is often unclear on many things. There are contradictory passages (sorry, some of you don’t like to admit this but there really is no denying it), morally questionable choices (killing every man, woman and child in a city … really?) and revised teachings (Jesus flips our understanding of the Law).
Look, truth isn’t relative or whatever you want it to be. The Bible contains truth, and it is there to teach us about God and how to follow Him. However, it does not spell everything out clearly for us. It gives us stories that take place over millennia, written by unique people in different times and settings. There are nuggets of truth we need to learn from these stories by cross-examining them and discerning what God would have us take away from them.
Anytime someone says, “The Bible clearly says,” you should know that you probably need to spend more time in discernment on whatever issue they’re pressing.
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