5 Things Most Christians Say (But Shouldn’t)

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Every culture has jargon, common words and phrases that mean something to those in the group. I’m not against these phrases.

Some commonly used phrases, however, are more than a tired collection of words. They’re harmful. They inaccurately reflect something about God’s character.

Here are 5 phrases Christians needs to stop saying.

1. I don’t have peace about it. 

Seven years ago, I found myself faced with a life-altering decision: stay at my current job as an engineer or leave engineering for full-time ministry.

I prayed about it for weeks. I begged God for a clear sign. I mean, we’re not talking about choosing a candy bar at a checkout line. We’re talking about a complete uprooting of everything. I knew nothing about working at a church. And my 25-year retirement plan? Gone. Like dropping-your- wedding-ring-in-the-ocean-gone. Being a pastor isn’t about money and certainly not about benefits. Can a brother get some insurance coverage?

Faced with the most difficult decision of my life, surely God would give me a sign. Maybe an angel would come to me in a dream like Joseph? Maybe God would speak audibly to me like he did Abraham and Moses?

Nothing happened, friends.

And here’s the thing: at no point did I feel peace about this. I felt terror. Like suddenly realizing you forgot to slide on pantaloons before tripping to the local market.

This terror is not much different from basically every door God opens in the Bible.

Tell me, really? Where in the Bible did someone feel peace about an open door from God? Did Abraham feel peace about leaving his family, his culture? When God opened a door for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, did peace like a river attendeth his way? What about Jesus? Did our Savior feel peace about going to the cross? No, no and no.

I wonder how many Christians have refused to enter the life they were called to because they didn’t feel peace about stepping through a door in front of them?

Often times, when we don’t have peace about something, what we really don’t have is certainty. What we really don’t have is comfort and familiarity.

The path to a bigger, more meaningful life is almost always through doors of uncertainty, the path to which paved with terror. God doesn’t give us all the answers because he wants us to trust him with every step up to and beyond the door.

2. This will pass. Things will get better.

When we suffer, our first thought is, “When will this be over?” Maybe we’re just responding as humans here – raise your hand if you like to suffer? But maybe it’s the way we’re conditioned living in a mostly safe, comfortable country.

I’m not against freedom. But such statements as “things will get better” you will find not in Scripture. Suffering was a door’s knock away for most folks in the Bible, you see. Sometimes it was the rival empire (Philistines) or the governing empire (Romans). Regardless, God’s people knew that things didn’t always get better.

Some of you reading this know the same.

A couple months ago, I spent several weeks at the Mayo Clinic. Every day, scooting from one “ologist” to another, I walked past hundreds of people who would not get better. I remember one girl vividly. After a long morning, I sat my hind end on a seat in the cafeteria. My eye catches this girl across the way, visibly tired but otherwise fine. Until she sat down. As soon as bottom hit the chair, she lost it. I mean lost it. I couldn’t help but wonder what she was just told. Was she given a terminal diagnosis? Was she teetering on the edge of hope and despair?

I don’t know. But in that moment I realized suffering must be more than a season to endure. Because sometimes the season doesn’t end, not on this side of eternity.

Eugene Peterson says, “One of our commonest ploys in comforting the suffering is to talk about the future even though we know nothing about it.

Do you see the danger of such a statement? We make ourselves and others believe God will make things better. He will take away the dark cloud of depression. He will remove the pain of losing your spouse. He will heal your cancer.

And God might. But he might not.

The message we need to hear is this: God doesn’t promise us a better tomorrow or a future without storms; instead he offers to be with us in the present, to walk with us through the storm.

Suffering isn’t a mark of divine absence. Comfort is primarily tied to the present because that’s where we experience his presence.

3. I’m blessed.

God loves to bless his people. He starts early. Like in chapter one of the Bible. Hardly out of the starting gate, in Genesis 1:28, we read, “Then God blessed them (Adam and Eve)…” If your God is more concerned with smiting than blessing, you missed something somewhere.

So what’s the problem with saying “I’m blessed”?

At times, we see it through a cultural lens.

“Tom, how are you?” Aw, man. Life is good. I’m blessed.

“Sally, where is your daughter going to college next year?” She got a scholarship to attend Stanford. “Scholarship? Wow, what a blessing.”

“Just closed on my first house. Livin’ the blessed life.”

Too often, we equate God’s blessing with our circumstances or possessions. Both are flawed interpretations of the blessed life.

Let’s take circumstances. Last year, I went through the most difficult year of my life. I felt a lot of things – lost, confused, depressed. What I didn’t feel was blessed. Life was mostly sucky.

In the Bible, however, the blessing of God has nothing to do with the events of your life. Blessing is a declaration of God’s approval of you, that God is for you and loves you. God’s blessing is a reflection of your identity, not your circumstances.

And possessions. Look, I’m not against houses and cars and certainly not scholarships. But many in the world own neither a car or a house. Are we to say these folks aren’t blessed? Of course not. If you’ve ever flown or chartered across waters to visit folks with next to nothing you were probably struck by how much they enjoyed life.

In God’s kingdom, the blessed life comes to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted. I’m referencing, here, Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1-12).

Possessions and circumstances have nothing to do with the blessed life.

The statement, “I’m blessed,” is as foundational a statement of truth as anyone can utter. You are blessed, right now, no matter your circumstances. No power of hell or scheme of man can negate this. You are loved by God. He is for you.

Receive this blessing.

4. It’s a God thing.

I get it. Sometimes stuff happens that is so beyond reason, so past your power and ability, you can only conclude God stepped in. Christians also say “It’s a God thing” as a way to deflect personal attention and give praise to God.

This statement implies, however, that some things are without God’s involvement, mostly the things within our power and reason, the ordinary and normal. Ninety-nine percent of days, in other words.

God is present and active in all situations at all times. The best and worst. The unexplainable and the hopelessly mundane. The mountain’s summit and the valley’s darkness.

When you change little Billy’s diaper, that’s a God thing. Monday morning is a God thing. So is a weekend with the in-laws.

Every moment is a God moment, if we have eyes to see.

5. Prayer works.

For many Christians – including number one – prayer has mostly been a one-sided dialogue with God. I would talk to God about the stuff I wanted him to fix, and more frequently depending on the severity of the stuff needing fixin’.

I approached prayer this way because God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. And because I was led to believe if I prayed hard enough for long enough, he would answer my requests (fix my problems).

But sometimes he didn’t. This angered me. “God, were you not listening? I asked specifically. Did I say it wrong? Was my posture incorrect?

Good friends, prayer is not a means to get what you want. Prayer is a means to enter into a relationship with your Creator.

That’s what prayer is, relationship with God. That’s not to say God won’t give you what you want. Sometimes, he does the miraculous. But if he doesn’t heal your cancer or give you that child or that dream job, nothing has changed, not with God or with you. Prayer hasn’t stopped working. God hasn’t stopped desiring a relationship with you.

I would love to hear from you. What is a statement Christians need to stop saying?

Grace and peace, friends.

Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.

23 Comments

  1. I can’t stand to hear someone say “God showed up and showed out”. God is always present and he is not a God of showing out. He doesn’t put on shows. There has to be a better way to say the Holy Spirit moved among His people.

    • I agree. The presence of God might feel more tangible, more powerful at certain times. But how we verbalize these times deserves a revisit, I believe.

  2. Wow, I so appreciate these reminders! The part about not having peace really meaning we don’t have certainty, familiarity, comfort… ouch. And “…prayer is not a means to get what you want. Prayer is a means to enter into relationship with your Creator.” I need to put that in writing where I can see it regularly until it’s permanently lodged in my consciousness. This is a post I will be rereading many times this year when I feel myself losing perspective. Thank you for writing this encouraging article, from someone who is in a season (9 months and counting) of significant testing and trials.

  3. I think I might add when people ask for God to ‘enter this place’ during group prayer. I’m pretty sure He’s already in the house. Maybe focus on what we can say and do to honor Him now that we’re all ‘here’.

    • Mmm…spot on Jason. Rather than asking God to enter a place, we should ask for eyes and hearts to see his presence.

  4. We use the word “Calling” too frivolously.

    “I’m feeling called to this”
    “Gods calling me to that”
    “I don’t think that’s part of my calling”

    • High five Rachel. The term calling begs for fresh examination. I’ve brought myself unnecessary suffering by assuming I was being called to something only for it to crash and burn. In the ashes, I questioned God. Why would he call me to something only for it fail? Maybe our calling is simply to love God and love our neighbor. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  5. I can remember hearing comments like, “I go to church to get into God’s presence.” While there is definitely something about corporate worship, we are continually in God’s presence. We don’t need to go to church, sing or play the correct songs, or use the right instruments to get there. Scripture says that where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst. This does not mean that God’s presence doesn’t stay with us.

    • Thanks for this Chris. We are always in the presence of God, no matter the time or place.

  6. I absolutely love the section about being blessed. I never saw it that way but it is so true. It makes me realize that that I’m blessed regardless of my circumstance because I am loved by God.

  7. Great blog. I remember going through times times and hearing some of these phrases. I also can’t stand hearing, “thoughts and prayers.” When I was much younger I had someone tell me when you say I am blessed, if they are struggling, they will feel badly about not being blessed. That opened my eyes.

  8. “Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.” Wikipedia.
    I think when some people say, “blessings,” like me, I’m declaring, all of this over a person when I leave them or see them. There is power in our words and I enjoy speaking good things over people. But yes, it’s good to remember that being blessed is more then prosperity in the natural. It’s a character thing, it’s who we are in Him.

  9. Sorry but I know prayer works because in my most trying times Ive had peace about God’s love for me. Because I know He loves me, I also knew things would get better and when those tough times were behind me I felt so VERY blessed because I knew that God saw me through it.

  10. I would have to say “yes!” to all these things. In line with #2, I often hear it phrased “all things work together for good.” Our definition of good and God’s definition of good vary wildly! Our suffering may well be God’s avenue of bringing Himself glory; good, but not by human standards. I also appreciate your honesty about #1; the number of times that I’ve been told that I would know the right decision based on peace is innumerable. Yet like you, so many times I’ve had to move forward in obedience with trembling. And then be told that fear is a sin revealing lack of trust.

  11. I just can’t stand to hear anyone – particularly pastors say – “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”. Uggggggghhhhh. It’s not pious, and it’s not giving God glory. It’s flat out unbiblical. It’s like a converted demon. We are saints who struggle with sin, and we are all in need of grace and we mess up so much. Paul said “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, [not lipstick on a pig, not a make-over] a whole new creation, with a new heart, and ‘called saints’. It’s a total contradiction of what God and his word says about us – we once were sons of Satan, Children of Wrath – now we are Joint heirs with Christ. 😉

    • Deep stuff. And true. And yes, we do sin. But the implication of “sinner saved by grace” is that sinner is still attached to your identity, as you said. And that’s the opposite of the gospel. Thanks for the comment LD.

  12. I understand what you are saying and in your context it all makes sense 😄I guess what I am saying is that in some contexts these are ok to say. I know a peace that passes all understanding. Let’s not cookie cut Christians ( which I am one) into what they can say and what they should not say. Let’s give grace even if we are sick of hearing what you’ve mentioned above. We all have been given a measure of faith and like grace faith grows to maturity.

  13. Why do people said it bad to say have a Blessed day? I had a co worker say that it is cursing him? Do you have any idea what he may be talking about?

  14. Thanks for sharing,I wholeheartedly agree ! And truely, everything God has desired I do,honestly I am not terrified,I do say often: Hope I am getting this from You God,cause I am possibly gonna be in trouble if not.And I do not ever,not 1 x,think this is great,more: God help me ! I always have to walk out on a limb so to speak,LoL,hanging in mid air,and i do.One time,had to grab a guy in a store,and swing him faceing me,he was going to run away.Had to say: this foods for your babyyou will recieve it in the name of Jesus,he cried,asked where did i come from ?
    And yes he would recieve it.My thought at the time: God if this is you,for grabbing him,i hope I don’t go to jail.and I didnt.I also encourage people do not ever do that unless you know it’s God,we don’t want to do things in vein either. Throughout the years I hear lots say,God doesn’t answer prayer,he does,I have shared often,maybe they couldn’t Handel the answer ? ,maybe they didn’t like it.And I do not own a home,do own a car,needs work done,I am very blessed,not with material things,although I like others have those too.Serving God today,is as awesome as the first day for me. Thanks I could share,appreciated reading this.

  15. Thanks so much Frank for this post. Your posts are always refreshing and bring to light the practicality of having a true relationship with God not just a religious activity or tick box exercise. Are you happy if I share it on my blog? ellyeleanor.blogspot.co.uk? I shared your post 4 years ago with your consent on 7 truths about marriage you will not hear in church and 8 terrible pieces of dating advice Christians give and they have been such a huge blessing to many. Well done for using the gift of God upon your life to bless His people!

    • Elly, thank you for the kind words! You’re absolutely welcome to share the post on your blog! Blessings.

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