‘Bless you sister’, ‘It’s well’, ‘God is in control’. You probably might have heard these phrases or used them recently. These phrases and the like have become synonymous with Christians. Christian lingo or Christianese as some have called it are phrases that have come to be associated with Christians or Christianity. Its growth has somewhat been buoyed by an increased understanding of faith and the call to confess God’s word and speak positively. Several of these clichés have even found their way into the social and business world. I once heard a governor of one of the Northern states in Nigeria admonish cattle rustlers to become born again – trying to get them to change their ways.
We know that the words of our mouths are very powerful, thus we have become more careful with the things we say, trying hard to make sure our words are largely positive. Once, someone was about entering an elevator going to the ground floor and asked the fellow he met in the lift if she was going down. The person quickly shot back, ‘I am not going down in Jesus name’. I can imagine the lady saying in her mind, ‘I beg, don’t curse me’.
Sometimes, Christianese phrases like ‘Praise the Lord’ or ‘Halleluyah’ are used as opening statements in noisy places to get people’s attention. Christianese has also taken a hit on not a few occasions. My pastor told me of a funeral he had to officiate some time ago (I tell you that is difficult). Trying to comfort the bereaved family, he said, ‘It is well’ and someone quickly retorted, ‘It is not well’.
Then there is also the abuse or misuse of Christian phrases or words associated with the Christian faith. For example, I heard a part of a song which said, ‘Maga don pay, shout Halleluyah’. Loosely translated it means ‘the deceived fellow has paid me the money, shout Halleluyah’. I find it ridiculous that Halleluyah, that expression of praise that means the same thing in every language, would be so unrighteously paired.
Also you hear people say such things like ‘I am strong’ when they feel a little under the weather. And when we try to politely respond, saying sorry, they say, ‘thank you’. This doesn’t add up. Why should I say sorry if you are indeed strong and why should you say thank you if you are strong? It would appear the state of weakness is being admitted, negating the earlier declaration. I think a better response should be ‘Don’t say sorry to me, I told you I am strong’. Funny right? Interestingly, when we get to the hospital, we tell the doctor exactly how we feel and forget the ‘I am strong’ song. I believe it is a declaration of faith to say, I am not feeling too good but I am already healed in Jesus’ name. It’s okay to say, ‘I ain’t got much cash now but God is supplying every need of mine. Yes, I am rich in Jesus name’. Faith doesn’t deny the situation, it declares the facts.
Our words carry the power and life of the Spirit when they bubble out of a heart yielded to the Holy Spirit. So it would be good to focus on the condition of our hearts. We should deal with the habits, weights and sins that we would hide behind our backs if we were standing before our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Then, with a surrendered heart, we can speak with a confidence that stems from the tree of faith and have in our hands the things we declare. It is interesting how yielding brings confidence and surrendering brings authority. But that is the dynamics of the Christian life for you. Then, it wouldn’t matter if you call it ‘Christianese’ or faith words. They would be words of power producing the things we speak.