Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

4 Underdog Church Words

Yesterday’s blog was about phrases we use in the church that are over used and undervalued.  Today I want to check out some Christiany words that we use in church all the time but don’t really understand the depth of them, they are like the underdogs of Christianity.  There are plenty of words I can go into that church people use but don’t really understand like “sanctification, justification, and fellowship,” but instead I chose some very simple ones that we just tend to overlook.  Here are a few of my favorite underdog church words that have a lot more power than we give them credit for:

(1) Worship

Most of the time when we hear the word “worship” we think of it at the music we sing before the pastor gets up to preach.  We see it as that mini concert that relieves us from having to listen to a two hour long sermon.  Worship is so much deeper than that.  It’s more than just the songs we sing on Sunday morning.  It is our giving of praise to God.  It looks different for different people.  

Two very good friends of mine sit and draw (very well I might add) what they are feeling or even thinking about God.  Others just sit in silence and take God in.  I am intensely moved by music, so for me, worship usually has something to do with very loud, very real music.  It doesn’t just happen in church or at youth group either.  Sometimes it’s in the car on the way to work, other times it may be during a hot shower after a long day.  God is not limited by our church walls, why should we be?

(2) Disciple

“After we get saved, we become disciples of Christ.”  I’ve heard different forms of that phrase many times in my short Christian life.  What does that even mean?  Does that mean we all turn into fishermen and follow Jesus around completely confused by His teaching?  I mean, that’s what the original disciples did!  

Disciples in Jesus’s day were actually called “talmidim” and every rabbi had talmidim.  If you wanted to be a talmid you approached the rabbi and asked, “May I follow you?”  Basically saying, “Hey do I have what it takes to be just like you?”  Jesus, not surprisingly, was no better at following the rules than I am and he broke that pattern, going out and calling his talmidim to follow him.  

Talmidim didn’t just follow their rabbi, they dedicate their lives to him.  They ate with him, slept with him, spent their lives learning from him, and even gave up even their families so that they could spend every moment of their lives alongside him.  They shared their best and worst moments with each other.  

The ultimate goal of the rabbi was for people to know him by knowing his talmidim.  When we take in Christ’s sacrifice we become his talmidim.  This means more than just following along behind him trying to copy his every move; it is a passionate, intimate relationship with him that causes people to know our rabbi by knowing us.

(3) Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gets thrown around a lot in church, “being moved by the Holy Spirit, receiving the Spirit, living in the Spirit, led by the Spirit” I know there is probably about 50 more that you can think of!  Do we really even know what the Holy Spirit is?  I always pictured it as the little vapor part of God that comes and rents the room with Jesus in my heart and that is responsible for making me feel guilty when I screw up.  

In the culture of those to whom this was written, your spirit was the essence of who you were.  It was everything that made up you.  This is not necessarily what you look like but rather who you are.  For instance, if you look at me you will see a spikey hair, tattoos, gauged ears, dark eyes, and most of the time a smile (or at least a smirk).  

Suppose someone were to build and exact replica of me, you could tell no difference by looking at it that we were different.  The only difference was this Bizarro Jess, was very quiet, very serious, lacked passion, and had no really strong beliefs about anything.  None of my friends would believe that Jess was me!  See because our spirits, attributes, personalities didn’t match up.  

The Holy Spirit is the essence of God.  It was makes up who He is.  His loves, hates, desires, passions, and feelings.  So, when the Bible says that God unites His spirit with ours, that means the very essence of who He is becomes our essence too!  That’s much more exciting than the puff of air I always imagined it to be!

(4) Grace

Grace, my favorite subject! (I’m sure that comes as a huge surprise to everyone!) Church people use that word for everything, I mean really! “It’s by God’s grace that I woke up this morning.”  “God’s grace let me walk away from that car accident.”  Phrases like those make God out to be this harsh figure lording over us, letting us scrape by if we’re lucky.  To me those phrases translate to “Whew, I really glad God didn’t strike me down today!” 

Grace is a word of extreme depth.  I could probably write an encyclopedia series just on the wonder of what it really is.  Grace is more than just God’s allowing you to survive; grace is God lavishing his favor, love, holiness, and joy onto you, bringing you life.  Grace is God’s unrelenting love for us even in our failures.  Grace is God seeing us as clean even when we feel dirty.  Grace is God’s awakening of life in us in the midst of the death that life tries to tie us down to.  Grace is not just an escape; Grace is a new name, a new creation, a better existence.  

Grace is something to party about! Grace is the ultimate underdog word, for all the underdogs who were never expected to be anything great.  It levels the playing field and makes heroes out of the forgotten.

There you have it! My four picks of the top underdog words in Christianity!  I hope they mean something different to you now and that they ignite a smile when you hear them again.  Fight for the underdogs, my friends, God has a habit of making something wonderful out of them.

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