Daily Archives: December 11, 2016

5 Christian Clichés That Need to Die

Now, if “let go and let God” solely referenced the moment of justification, it would be fine. But it typically refers to the process of sanctification, which is anything but passive. The Christian life is grueling. When Paul reflects on it, he doesn’t think of sunsets and naps but soldiers and athletes and farmers . He thinks of running tracks and boxing rings.

“Books don’t change people,” observes John Piper. “Paragraphs do. Sometimes even sentences.”

A good sentence is a gift. We love finding complex truth shrink-wrapped in clear, simple, memorable form. It’s why Charles Spurgeon, C. S. Lewis, and Tim Keller are dominating a newsfeed near you. Even God likes pithy statements — at least enough to breathe out a whole book of them.

But one-liners aren’t always helpful. Sometimes, in our desire to simplify truth, we can trivialize and even obscure it. And to obscure the truth is to tell a lie.

Here are five popular Christian clichés that aren’t biblical and therefore need a memorial service.

  1. “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

I appreciate the heart behind this statement. It’s true, after all, that God can do anything He pleases (Jer. 32:27), that He sometimes redirects our course (Prov. 16:9), and that He never abandons His own (Heb. 13:5).

But if God closes a door in your life, there’s no guarantee He’ll open a window. He may not open anything. He may want you to realize you have the wrong address.

Scripture is filled with examples of the Spirit closing doors, windows and any other conceivable entrance to keep one from heading in the wrong direction or at the wrong time (Prov. 16:919:21Acts 16:6–7).

I once heard calling described as the trifecta of affinity, ability and opportunity. Do you like it, can you do it and is there an open door? Now there are rare times when, if the third piece isn’t in place, God may want you to break down the door. Missionary martyr Jim Elliot once said that a lot of folks are sitting around waiting for a call when what they need is a kick in the pants.

But what if God has something else for you entirely? What if He doesn’t want you to move to that city, or take that job, or enter that relationship — whether by door or window?

Maybe He wants you to reevaluate in light of affinity, ability and opportunity — your internal desires, your confirmed giftings and your actual options.

  1. “You’re never more safe than when you’re in God’s will.”

Insofar as the safety here is eternal, or means something like “in the right place,” this maxim is gloriously true. Almost every time I hear it, though, the person is referring to physical safety.

Years ago as I was preparing to become a missionary in a closed country, well-meaning believers assured me God would protect me from harm since He had called me.

Jesus seems to disagree:

You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. (Luke 21:16–18)

Some of you they’ll slaughter. But you’ll be entirely safe. Huh?

These promises sound contradictory, but they’re not. Justin Martyr (AD 100–165) was almost certainly reflecting on this passage when he said, “They can kill us but they cannot harm us.”

I love that. Only a Christian could say something so crazy.

God has promised us many wonderful things; physical safety isn’t one of them. Brutal life circumstances are normal in a fallen world. Pursuing God may even lead you into greater physical danger. But you will be spiritually alive and eternally secure.

  1. “Let go and let God.”
  2. “God will not give you more than you can handle.”
  3. “God helps those who help themselves.”

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