You know it’s hot outside when you go outside and it’s hot.

This is a paraphrase of a great sign that was sent to me – I love it. It’s so obvious it’s actually quite silly and it makes me laugh every time I see it. But, you ask, how do you get a blog out of a silly sign like this? Well…..
Our sign this week IS just plain silly and it doesn’t really hurt anyone. We’ve all done it. We’ve all asked the daft question “Is it hot outside?” Well my answer will now be – “I don’t know, go out side and see?” (For hot you can substitute cold, wet, dark etc). We can all say silly things sometimes but we churchy people take silly to a whole new level. We take it to the level of hurting people. We are great with coming up with really stupid sayings that, at best, don’t mean much or, at worst, are very insulting / demeaning.
There are loads of them and here are just a few, (I offer my thanks to various people who drew my attention to them – some of the best are here – http://tinyurl.com/kos2fgh).

God helps those who help themselves. 

This, I have been told, is one of the most quoted Bible verses ever. REALLY??? Listen everybody – IT IS NOT IN THE BIBLE – ANYWHERE. AT ALL. IT IS NOT THERE. IT IS NOT A BIBLE QUOTE. And it’s very demeaning. “Listen you homeless bum who might have mental health issues and a drug problem everything’s going to be okay as long as you start to sort yourself out because, as we all know, (say it with me boys and girls) God helps those who help themselves.” ARGGGGGGGGH! Stop it, stop it now!

Everything happens for a reason.

No it doesn’t.
I should stop there. It is that obvious, this really shouldn’t need anymore explanation. Saying this in many situations implies that God is a cruel and manipulative deity who plans out bad things for us. In my ministry I have only had to deal with two women who have been raped, I can’t imagine the damage caused in saying this to them. Not only have you been attacked and violated but it’s a God sanctioned violation. That’s basically what this says – everything happens for a reason. ARGGGGGGGGH!

The Bible clearly says….

Don’t go there, please DO NOT GO THERE.
I know professors of Biblical studies who have spent decades studying the Bible who would never say this. The Bible says very little clearly. It should be VERY important to us as Christians. It says an awful lot that we should read and think about, it teaches us many things, it tells us the ways of God, it shows us who Christ is, it should be taken very seriously but it says very little clearly. There are at least 5 versions of the creation story (Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Psalm 104, Job 38, Proverbs 38) and each one is a little different. It can’t even agree on how many donkeys Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem, Matthew says there are two, “…and he sat on them” (Matt 21 v 7) where Luke only has one donkey, “…they sat Jesus on it.” (Luke 19 v 35). The parables seem easy and yet the disciples didn’t understand them all, neither do we and don’t start me on the book of Revelation. The Bible says very little clearly, we have to read, study and think about what it says, even then we may not get it right. We should be very careful about what we say the Bible says “clearly.”

Love the sinner; hate the sin.

No matter how well intentioned you are and no matter what the situation is – this can never sound good. It’s like that phrase “I’m not a racist but…..” nothing good can come after it. It smacks of judgmentalism, even though you may not mean it to. It is a very ‘us and them’ phrase. Us, the good people, condescend to share our love with you, a wretched sinner. Compare it to the pharisee in the temple thanking God that he’s not like other men; oh look, it’s not much different. It’s scary like that other well known and terrible phrase – there but for the grace of God go I – implying that the other person doesn’t have God’s grace. YES they do! So stop loving the sinner and hating the sin and stop thanking God that there but for his grace you go and start loving people for who they are – children of God.

It must be true, it’s in the Bible.

The King James version tells me there are unicorns – 9 times! Be careful, most people think God helps those who help themselves is there too.

AND MY ALL TIME PERSONAL FAVOURITE

I’ll pray for you.

I can’t tell you how many times people have said this to me with genuine concern on their face. Usually after I tell them I don’t believe in the medieval version of hell that the so many churches try to scare people with. A hand on the shoulder, staring into my eyes – “I’ll pray for you.” What they fail to add, which is written plainly on their smug, self satisfied features is “you misguided, heretical, non Christian. I pray that God will damn you so that I never have to share eternity with you and your kind, and you will see that there is a real hell – sinner.” And I can take that if they will actually pray for me. But I have to ask myself ‘do they actually pray for me?’ If they do then that’s great and I will not mock the genuineness of the concern – but I fear that “I’ll pray for you” is just one of those well used Christian platitudes that is trotted out and not meant. It’s like the person behind the checkout at Coles asking how you are. They don’t actually want to know how you are, they say it to everyone. If you say and mean it and do it then use I’ll pray for you whenever it’s appropriate. If it’s just another hackneyed saying then please desist – you’re giving people who genuinely do pray for others a bad name!

I could go on and on but I have to go outside and see if it’s hot!

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