Mark, the language you Christians use separates you from others.
You mean from people who aren’t Christians?
No. I mean your special religious Christian language separates you from humans in general. It doesn’t matter whether they’re Christians or not.
How do you mean God?
I mean you Christians have invented a special way of speaking that separates you from others.
What sort of other people God? This is getting frustrating!
From ALL other people, Christians included. You think it unifies you, but in reality it eats at the real human connections you could experience with others who believe, and it repels those who don’t.
God this is going to get me in trouble with a lot of religious people I think.
Mark every group of people develops their own way of speaking over time. One person begins using a particular phrase like ‘Glory to God!’, another picks it up, then another and before you know it, it has become common speak. It spreads particularly quickly when a famous Christian uses certain phrases – modern media has meant that thousands of people quickly pick up that person’s way of speaking and then spread it to thousands more.
And why are we talking about this God?
Because your Christian way of speaking is tiresome and it is separating you from people who don’t believe what you do, AND even from those who do.
Ok God, I can see how it might make people who don’t believe uncomfortable, but how does it separate us from other Christians?
That’s pretty obvious Mark, but first let’s talk about how it effects the people who don’t believe. Most of you Christians can see this, but no one is sure what to do about it – you can see that your special Christian language, the ‘bless you’s’ and the ‘Praise the Lord’s’ and ‘Glory to God’s’ make people outside your group feel uncomfortable. And you find yourself feeling uncomfortable for them when you hear others speak that way. But you also feel a bit guilty, a bit ‘worldly’ for feeling that way.
And even the term ‘worldly’ is a good example of what we’re talking about here Mark – it has taken on a special meaning among Christians that the word didn’t originally hold – it has come to mean anything that doesn’t fit with your own particular view of how a Christian should act. For instance Paul told the men of Athens that their statue to the unknown God was actually a statue to the one true God. But if any modern Christian said a thing like that he would be branded a heretic – you’d all say he was ‘comparing a ‘graven image to the living God’. Paul was fortunate that Christianity was in its infancy. In his day it was what Christians believed and the way they acted towards others that made them different – not a special way of speaking that only they used.
And that is really my point Mark – you influence each other so strongly with your viewpoint of what it means to be a Christian, including your special religious way of speaking that you have developed your own special society. If you were the persecuted minority your Christianity would have to be relevant to the world, and you would only speak in a way that marked you as a Christian if I motivated you do so. The truth is that you all speak in your special Christian language because, like any group of people, you feel comfortable using your own special phrases and words. Your religious way of talking gives you a sense of belonging.
And God is that so bad?
Not at all.
What?? You’ve just been telling me that it’s not good to speak that way.
Mark it’s not sinful – but it separates you from people which isn’t what I want.
Is that because you want us to reach people who aren’t Christians?
I’m not talking about that here. This is about the fact that I want all of you humans to reach out to each other.
But you said in the bible that you wanted us to go out to the nations?
Yes I did. And the best way to reach others is to demonstrate how living in back and forward conversation with me is relevant in the REAL world. Think about the way I behaved when I came. I talked to everyday humans in everyday language. When the centurion came and talked to me I didn’t say ‘bless you brother’, or ‘praise the lord’. And I didn’t shout ‘come on’ or ‘to God be the glory’, when he displayed such strong faith. I spoke to him in human language – not religious speak. You don’t need to use a special Christian language to make me feel more real. If I really exist, then I REALLY do exist, and no amount of special religious language is going to change that either way. It’s time you Christians were more relevant, like I was, to people around you. It’s time you stopped trying to get them to think what you think and started finding out how they are hurting and helping heal the hurt.
How do we do that?
Simple. Listen to me. If they’re having marriage problems then telling them ‘Jesus loves you’, or suggesting that they ‘just need to trust the Lord’, is not helpful Mark. If you want to help them heal their hurt you must NOT say anything that you haven’t heard from me. I might tell you to say nothing and just listen. Can you see? If you want to help me stop the enemy hurting people then first you need to stop separating yourselves from others by talking in strange ways that they find unappealing.
Ok God but you also said that speaking in religious language separates us from other Christians. Are you sure??
Mark when any group of people adopts a special way of speaking it gives them a sense of belonging, it reassures them, it makes what they value seem more real to them.
And what’s wrong with that?
I don’t want you to have to stir up your own reality, I want you to discover it speaking with me.
“But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires.” ISAIAH 55:11
It’s time you dropped talking ‘about me’ to each other, and started talking ‘with me’. Imagine being able to tell others what I had said, rather than what you THINK God wants. The real reality of God is to be found in conversation with him. And Mark have you noticed that the more you talk back and forward with me, the more you just speak like a normal human with me. You’re using less and less ‘Christian phrases’. For instance you just refer to me as God, you’ve dropped the ‘Lord, oh Lord’ approach which was just a religious habit.
God people aren’t going to like what you just said.
Tell them to think about their relationship with their wives or husbands. If they were Christians when they met there would have been a fair amount of ‘Christianese’ in the way they spoke to each other. It’s a way of proving that you’re part of the same group. But as their relationship became more real the Christian way of speaking almost always disappears. It is no different with me. As you stop praying AT me and begin a back and forward conversation WITH me you begin to stop pleading ‘lord,oh lord’ and you start asking questions like – ‘God what do you want me to do about that?’ You become brave enough to exclaim ‘Hi God’ and ask me how my day is going. That’s reality Mark.
God lots of people think talking to you like that is much too familiar and doesn’t show enough respect. The critics will want a bible verse to substantiate what you just said.
Then give them one Mark. When the Pharisees criticised me I gave them a verse. They still didn’t believe me, but I gave them a verse.
“So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” HEB 4:16
God I’m worried about that verse, I used the Message translation and lots of the critics have decided it’s not from God.
Mark bible translations have been a huge influence on this special and damaging ‘Christian language’ you all use.
How do you mean?
Well take the King James version of that verse for instance… “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace”
‘Let us therefore come’, is a turn of phrase that worked 400 years ago, that’s how normal humans spoke, but it’s NOT how you speak now. If an important client phoned you and asked if you could have a meeting, would you reply ‘let us therefore come unto your office’?
Exactly! So stop talking to me and other Christians like that. It’s not spiritual, it’s largely irrelevant and it doesn’t help you or others. If you are more real, then you will discover more reality.
Ok God this is getting off the point. I asked how this special Christian language separates us from other Christians.
Yes. And it most certainly does. The example of talking to your important client is a good one. Your important client is a friend, someone you relate well to and enjoy. You like their company. You like that they are real. You talk to them like a normal human being. You wouldn’t dream of saying ‘bless you brother’ at the end of the conversation. If you were talking to them in an email about some business problem they had you wouldn’t write ‘praise the lord anyway’ or some other Christian throwaway phrase – and you CERTAINLY wouldn’t sign off the email with ‘blessings’.
When you talk to other Christians like that you are saying in effect to them, ‘we’re not close, we’re not real with each other, we have to use that pretending language’. My advice Mark? Don’t. It doesn’t help you. Be real with each other, and reality, my reality will become more important for you.
PRAISE FOR THE FREEDOM DIARIES
The Freedom Diaries will stretch you. It describes Mark’s real life struggle with Doubt as he discovered that he could hear God’s voice every day.Dr Mark Virkler. Author of 4 Keys to hearing God’s Voice. Buffalo. New York.
Like a child on Christmas morning, I was delighted to discover how simple yet wonderful it is to place my hand into the hand of God and listen to his whispers and enjoy his affection. I could only ask why no one had ever told me he was this good and this close. I wish I had read this book a long, long time ago. Daniel Walker. Founder and Executive Director of Nvader. Author of God in a brothel.
This is new and exciting. It’s not the idea of hearing from God that’s new, it’s having conversations back and forth, question and answers. That’s new for most of us. Now I am enjoying my own conversations with God, which always leave me with hope. David Garratt of Scripture in Song. Hawaii.
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IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE THINKING IT'S YOUR OWN IMAGINATION WHEN YOU TRY TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH GOD - read the 'Practical Tips' section. How to have your own conversation with God in The Freedom Diaries.