The barista steamed some milk from behind the counter as he and I shared a conversation and exchanged our words. From time-to-time, some words would roll across from his corner.
“Sin jadfjal jdfa dfasf asf blessed. Asd kfajdf dfjaldfj Eternity sdj kfj akdj salvation.”
I’d slip them under the table, discreetly trying to dispose of them without him noticing. I didn’t want to hear more words that didn’t make sense to me, but more came my way.
“Everything happens for a reason. Okdja kdjf la accept Jesus aljdf lajfj. Walk with God adkfjak adkf affa.”
My hands were so busy that my blank stare probably gave away my preoccupation. It’s hard to translate these words into a logical understanding. I was thinking so hard that I didn’t even notice how tight I was clenching my jaw.
One might say that my ears were so touched by his words that nothing else was coming in. I’d say I was in thought and stopped listening. Instead of trying to throw away the words, I just let them roll off the table. It’s easier that way. They throw themselves away, yet you still see their ambiguity.
Christianese is simply an English dialect of exclusion that has tainted our communication with others. As Christians, we’ve been programmed to speak a certain way, use certain words, and throw out certain phrases. We use them so often that they develop some presumed meaning that we actually don’t even know the meaning for, but we’ll say it just because it sounds nice.
The moment our language starts to reflect something that which is of Christian descent, the validity and worth of the statement can get tossed out the window. It doesn’t make sense to those outside the church.
“Christian” has developed a meaning and reputation outside the church. Christianese connects people to their idea of the church, but many of these ideas are negative, reconnecting people to the accept-Jesus-or-go-to-hell messages of their past. That method is direct without-a-doubt and may be valid in some eyes, but that game plan doesn’t make someone want to come to the church or be associated with a Christian.
There is no ideal conversion tactic, but we act like scaring people into the Christian lifestyle is the best way to get them on our side. Who wants to constantly hear that God loves them but they are going to hell unless they do such and such? First, what exactly is this such and such? Second, when is this such and such enough that we won’t go to hell?
We’ve started taking on a responsibility that is not ours. It’s not our obligation to make the connection for our friends.
It’s better to lead by action than by words.
It’s better to show people Jesus rather than spout off the laws he challenged.
It’s better to express the character of God than point out the sins she washed away.
Our fancy shmancy lingo is not enough to change lives of our comrades around us. They don’t want another speech about why they’re going to hell. We need to surprise them that all Christians aren’t the same and redefine their image of church.
Instead of reprimanding their poor decisions and pointing out their consequences, listen to their story and enjoy the relationship. It’s okay not to give some sort of advise, and it’s okay to leave “God” out of any advise that you do decide to give, leaving your words with the truth of reality without the Christian mumbo jumbo.
The life-changing part of the Christian lifestyle takes place on its own. You can’t force someone to believe something. They either do or they don’t. That change of mind comes on its own and cannot be constructed. Thrusting belief on someone is pointless if they don’t have a receptive mindset. Otherwise, they tune it out before you even get to the punchline.
Stop talking. They’ve heard the speech. Let them see the character of God for themselves.