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  • Writer's pictureMike Bongo

Hiding Behind Christian Clichés

1 Corinthians 15:58 says Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

In a recent sermon, I made the point that Christians should work, and work hard. Let’s be clear as to what kind of work it is that I am speaking of.

We don’t work so that God will love us.

He already loves us - in Christ.

We don't work so that God will be pleased with us.

He's already pleased with us - in Christ.

We don’t work so that God will save us.

He has already done that - in Christ.

God loves us, and He demonstrated that love by sending His Son to save us from the punishment we deserve because of our sins. We cannot save ourselves. No amount of work done by us can put us in a right relationship with God. That has already been accomplished (past tense) through the work of Christ on the cross.

Titus 3:4-8 says But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This statement is trustworthy; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for people.

We don’t work for our salvation, but once we are saved, we are called to work.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

You and I dear Christian have a job to do. In fact, we have many jobs. One is to serve. We are commanded to put in work in the form of service. We follow a man who said, “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve.”

You can serve at Living Water Community Church on Sunday mornings. You can also serve at the church throughout the week in various capacities, such as leading a Bible Study, helping in the Food Pantry, or going downtown to serve alongside our Street Ministry team on Saturday mornings. You can serve through Living Water Ministries, or you can serve outside that context.

There’s only two individuals who know whether or not you’re putting in the work. That’s you and the Lord. I don’t know; that’s between you and Him.

But I do know this, sometimes Christians hide behind Christian clichés to get out of doing work.

Example #1

Someone’s asked to serve in the Children’s Ministry. The response is, “Let me pray about it.”

There are times where that is a completely appropriate response. Look at your schedule, evaluate how your time is being divvied up, and determine if it’s doable, given all that is happening in your life. Fair enough.

However, would you not agree that there are times when uttering, “Let me pray about it”, is merely a spiritual smoke screen? I’m asked to serve. I know there’s a need. I can meet that need…but I am deliberately choosing not to. I will, therefore, toss out a Christian cliché, that will allow me to continue to live in procrastination, laziness and/or selfishness – as I hide behind a popular cliché masquerading as spirituality.

Example #2

Again, you’re asked to serve in the Children’s Ministry, and the response is, “Let me see if that’s what God is leading me to do.”

What is meant by that? I honestly don’t know. What are people looking for? A sign? A literal sign, like a billboard on Route 83?

Are they looking for a nudging? What is that? Is that literal? Do you feel a poke in your back? Do your feet mystically and involuntarily take you downstairs to the Children’s classrooms? I wonder.

Are they listening for a whisper? Or perhaps waiting for God to speak audibly to them from heaven, “My child, go downstairs on Sundays and teach kindergarten.”

I am being sarcastic, but I’m not trying to be flippant. My question still remains, what is the person who says, “Let me see if that’s what God is leading me to do”, looking for? If I had to guess, I think what they mean is they’re looking for some sort of hint from God in some form or fashion.

How about this? Perhaps the fact that you are being made aware of the need and asked to meet that need (and you can meet that need), that might just be the hint that you’re looking for!

I know that’s not as spiritually enthralling as a verbal utterance from God, but that just might be all the confirmation you need!

"I know I am supposed to serve."

"I have been presented with an opportunity to serve."

"My season of life right now is such that I can serve."

"I’ll do it."

Can it be that simple? I think so. We must not complicate what need not be complicated. Or worse, instead of serving others, serve self by hiding behind a platitude to get out of something we know that we should do.

Please don’t get me wrong, there is a time for rest, to be sure. There’s a time to exercise patience, wisdom, and a waiting upon God, agreed! But you know what else there’s a time for? Action. Work. Service.

Before anyone gets upset with me, this post is addressing a particular target audience. Those who claim the name of Christ, yet are avoiding the good works we are commanded to do, by tossing out a popular platitude, or Christian cliché to get out of doing said work.

The intended audience of this post is Christians, who instead of choosing to serve others and walk in obedience to the clear commands in Scripture, choose self, and therefore walk in disobedience to our Lord.

Introspective questions for all of us:

  • Are you serving God and others at your full capacity?

  • Do you have more gas in the tank (i.e. time and energy), that could be used to the glory of God?

  • What can you do to serve the body of Christ and the community around you?

If your answer to those questions is - "I am doing exactly what I should be doing for God and others at this stage of my life (all things considered)." - then by all means, carry on!

If you can’t say that, then please heed this loving admonition. Roll up your sleeves, utilize your giftings, and get to work! He is worthy of all your effort, and He desires to use you.

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