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The Secret Language of Professional Christians

Happy business people laughing against white background

Professional Christians are a club I will never understand.

What is this secret language of elite Christians that I fail to understand or master?  Do I fail to master it because I am half Korean and never learned it growing up?  Does one need a white, Americanized mother to learn it?  Or is it simply because I grew up in a violent household?  Is that why I neither understand nor even know how to obtain the knowledge of this secret language?  I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.  But the longer I live, the more baffled I become.

I know that I love God and Jesus with all my heart, mind and soul.  I know that I lay myself bare for their sakes.  I know how imperfect and frankly, how embarrassing I am to myself when I do this.  All my imperfections are laid obvious and plain for the world to see- I am often laughed at or criticized for them on this blog.  They are even being brought up in my court case!  Yes, I am a fool for Christ.  But these elite Christian are never fools.  They speak with a special vocabulary- it is slick, it never yells, it never stumbles, it always has verses memorized and ready to shoot at the hip, and most importantly, it is always spoken in a special Christian tone.  Yes, that tone is what I lack most of all.  When I hear it, mostly on church radio and at the pulpit (especially with guest speakers), I am laid low.  I feel like I am the junk yard dog of all Christians.  I am no professional, that’s for sure.  I will never, ever, speak like those marvelous shiny women.  Ever.

What would my husband think or do if he came home one day and I was talking in that

Happy mother, father and daughter read a book in the park

The image of the perfect Christian Wife & Mother:   She is intentionally loving her family,  speaking encouragement into her husband’s life, thus filling his love tank.  He is receiving it, and now feels affirmed, validated and cherished as a husband &  father of the family.  ugh.

tone, I wonder?  I think he would take my temperature.  But seriously, what is that language?  And why is it so highly sought after in the Christian world?  Every woman who is praised in the church world sounds like that.  Even toned, and with a full church vocabulary.  Words like, ‘I had to check my love tank’, ‘engage with that’, ‘disengage with that’,  ‘I need to affirm this in him’, ‘speak encouragement into my husband,’ ‘prayer is on my heart’, ‘I need to love intentionally’,  ‘it’s part of our sin-nature’, ‘lay down the planks to build the bridge’,  ‘he really received it from me’, ‘pour it out of my heart’, ‘Christ centered, Godly marriage, ‘we no longer love on purpose’… well, you’re getting the point.  For me, to parrot those kinds of phrases is demeaning to me and to Christ.  It’s like joining a club or something.  Not because the words and phrases aren’t useful- but because they are used over and over again among the professional Christian crowd.  It is a special language that only they know.   It is less than genuine.  It also speaks to a deep insecurity- almost as if to say, “If I won’t speak the language of this club, then they will reject me.  I won’t really be considered a genuine member.”  So those who are weaker will adopt it to belong.

I hate being bullied.  Even subconsciously.  So I refuse to use a single phrase they use.

And I fear that the truth is this:  I am not included as a ‘genuine’ or ‘good’ or ‘Godly’ Christian by these people.  Especially as a woman.  I don’t get invited to their get-togethers.  My work online is not considered to be ‘Christian’ in nature.  Nor it is considered to be valuable to the Kingdom of God.  I am too rough, too outspoken; I don’t use the secret language and I … well, I.. just don’t ‘sound right.’   While no theological fault can be found with what I say, I just don’t say it… the way they are used to hearing it.  I don’t seem to fit.  And so, I suppose I will never be a ‘leader’ in a cool church, nor will I be a speaker on a ‘nice’ radio program for ‘nice’ Christians.

I admit it, his hurts my feelings and it disappoints me as a Christian.  I can’t and won’t speak the secret language.  It is not in my nature to do so.  I’m not a ‘joiner’, nor am I a faker.  I believe that people should just be themselves and that truth should be spoken in plain words unique to each person’s experience.  Otherwise, it makes those unfamiliar with the church feel intimidated and fearful.  Why would they want to hang around people who have a secret way of talking?  A way they probably will never learn or want to learn?  I believe that this ‘clubbiness’ is what pushes new people away from a church after they ‘try it’ once.  Who wouldn’t run away from something that formidable?

john2

I’ll bet ol’ John the Baptist didn’t speak the secret language of professional Christians!  Besides Jesus, he is my hero, by the way.

I’ve also noted a direct correlation between those who speak this special language to the amount of violence and pain they and their families have experienced in their histories.  Those who speak the secret language best are from families who haven’t fought, divorced or done much violence.  They are financially stable, don’t do drugs and alcohol and certainly don’t go to jail.  They tend to have family get togethers, especially during holidays.  The ones who will never speak that language are junk yard dogs who came up the hard way- with violence and brokenness.  They are those whom Jesus pulled from the fire, made brand new and set on course to fulfill the Great Commission.  We look at the secret language and spurn it.  There is just a level of fakeness to it that we can’t do.  Not after all we have seen and done. Ours is the rough road and we are familiar with it.

But it feels like elitism.  It feels like a rich man’s club- one that shuns us as second class citizens.  And it is no good.  We, the junkyard dogs of Christendom,  need to feel like we are valued by our brothers and sisters too.  We need their love and acceptance.  We need to be held up as examples.  We are not less because of our plain speech.  That secret way of speaking distances those whom it purports to help.  It only honors those who are like them while ignoring the good work of those who are also sincerely serving the Lord.  It creates a false division where there should be none.  My message to professional, elite Christians:  stop speaking the secret language.  Go back to original, sincere language and stop being a club.

From this junk yard dog to all other junk yard dogs who happen to adore Jesus with all your hearts:  don’t give up.  Don’t allow the ‘elite’ club of Christians, who most often also include well-meaning pastors and radio hosts, defeat the good work you are also doing.  We may never fit in,  but I get this gut feeling that there are way more of us than there are of them.  We just let people see our warts, that’s all.  And I think that serves the Lord much better than pretending to be perfect, shiny and new.  Most non-Christians will never relate to the elite, professional Christians- they will relate to us, the non-perfect ones who can still tell them what Jesus did for us, despite all our flaws.  Doesn’t that prove Jesus’ love even more?  So, carry on, you junk yard Christians!  God sees & values what you do in his name, even if the profession field of Christians don’t.

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13 Comments »

  1. I have been turned off with organized corporate church for a long time now. Their brand of perfect just doesn’t sit well with me. And I’m guessing my personality and odd looks don’t sit well with them either because anytime I’ve joined a church and tried to get involved they frankly want nothing to do with my husband and I. Yes we have been able to force our way in sometimes and they will use us for any and all task no one else wants to do like clean toilets and change poopie diapers but come time for their get togethers we are always excluded. I guess when you look like an artist and biker it just doesn’t fit into their mold.
    I’m feeling way better about myself now that I don’t force myself to go inside the walls of the million dollar church anymore. I now get together with others who feel the same and we do church all the time, wherever we are and with whoever will join us. We do a radical kind of faith and what you see and hear from my hubby and I is what you will get at any given time of the day, hour or week. You will see the good, bad and ugly and I refuse to hide anything about me. Do I need to change some of my ways and actions to better please God? You betcha, I’m a work in progress that is for sure. Many times my church service is at a secular bike rally with rough, gruff, hardcore sinners who frankly may shoot someone who talks like you just wrote about.
    I have a Facebook friend who wrote a book and does YouTube videos called “unchurching ” his name is Richard Jacobson, great stuff and very helpful for sure.
    Jesus would never have been allowed into the elite group because he always met the person where they were, he ate with tax collectors, spoke kindly with the prostitutes and bikers of the time. No Jesus was in the highways and by-ways. He never compromised his message but those around him never felt like they could not enter into a deep relationship with him either.
    Once when I talked with this youth pastor on why he was not allowed to fratinize with outsiders (non staff members) inside the church, he said it was by design so if they did accidentally be ungod like there wouldn’t be a scandal, they are taught they have to keep up this image at all times in order to maintain control of their church. True story, btw, this pastor decided he liked being friends with us so he quit.
    Yes I think I will continue doing open air church bringing the message of God’s grace, love and forgiveness to bikers and children who love my puppets and free art workshops. This to me is church!
    Great blog btw, keep up the good work, this is the stuff that needs to be said.

      • I understand exactly what kind of language you are referring to and I’m not fluent in it either. One new word from that language is “Godincidence”. I believe that there are no coincidences and to say something is a coincidence is an insult to God’s perfect timing. God is all knowing and does not let the “chips fall where they may”. He is in control and is concerned about the most minute and minuscule details of our lives if we allow Him to be. I have heard the analogy that our earthly lives are like a patchwork quilt, with pieces of the quilt placed how and where God wants to place them. Perhaps one day when we are with Jesus, we will be able to see how those pieces fit together. I missed your posts for a while and am glad to see you writing again as Short Little Rebel.

      • Yes, sometimes I get too wrapped up in my work on Facebook. But I finally got the Facebook link working on the side column on this blog. So, my readers can now see that too. Thanks for reading my blog, Gina!

    • I think these particular phrases are from the non-denominational church set. I’m sure that the old denominations like Baptists, Lutheran, etc, have their own ways of speaking too. “Washed in the blood of the lamb, come to Christ, throw yourself on the cross..etc” lol. I’m used to those, though! I guess I never knew what it felt like to be an ‘outsider’ to a church until I became interested in the non-denominational churches. They have this whole other way of speaking- very hip, very cool and very foreign. That’s when it occured to me that churches have a culture that can be very off putting to new people who don’t know anything about church or Jesus. I know how it makes ME feel! That’s why I wrote the post. We need to be very aware of this and do things to shake ourselves us. We need to break the self imposed isolation from the ‘real world’. It’s not that we need to become like the world- but we shouldn’t develop a strange vocabulary and phraseology unique to only our church. It all adds up to exclusion in the end. It’s not intended, I’m quite sure. But still, something we need to know.

  2. Hi Susan,

    Just want to say, I get it! I think the Christian community (whoever that is) has adopted a politically correct way of stating things. Not biblical, more psycho-babble, generic pablum, designed not to offend anybody. Well, except you and me, I guess.

    I recently read a book by Mark Strauss titled “Jesus Behaving Badly” I love the title. He points out that it’s possible to take the words of Christ and conclude they are, judgmental-preaching hellfire; provocative-telling people to hate their families; chauvinistic-no women apostles; racist-calling Gentile’s dogs; anti-environmental-cursing a poor fig tree; anti-animal-affirming animal sacrifices and, had anger issues-losing it in the temple.

    I have taken the position for years that God/Jesus’ love sometimes looks & sounds a lot different than what we 21st century, western minded Christians think it ought to be. Strauss deals with this very notion. He explains these harsh words of our Lord pretty much how we would explain them, but in light of how some over-sensitive, can I say “Snowflake” folks react, they cringe at such “rough” and “unrefined talk.”

    Even though I think Jesus was referring primarily to oath taking, I believe in letting my “yes be yes”, and my “no be no”. This is a great practice and easy way to keep from lying. To quote that great theologian from the sixties, Aaron Neville…”Tell It Like It is.”

    Hang in there, I think you’ll find more of us than you expect.

    • Thanks, Bob. I do hope people understand that I am not indicting the church as a whole. I am poking it and hoping it responds to this point- the American church can be too isolated from the outside world- especially since this new notion of the ‘Missional Church’- the idea that people should bring unsaved people into the Church building instead of every Christian going OUT into the world and preaching Christ crucified, baptising them and THEN bringing them in for Christian fellowship WITH the Church, wherever they happen to meet. This switch in thinking has led to so many problems, isolation being only one of them. The isolation, then, creates a rather strange and intimidating culture to ‘outsiders’ that can turn people away from God- not because of his words or thoughts, but because they are turned off by the clubbiness. I agree with you- lots of people felt left out and can understand where I’m coming from.

  3. Reb, you have once again struck the chord of truth! I had to laugh as I read parts of your post, “secret language, ” can be found in every church I have attended or served at. It is LEARNED behavior, and alone does not suggest the speaker is saved. The litmus test, according to scripture, is not your words, but your actions; “you will know them by their fruit…” Thanks for sharing THE truth. Blessings

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