10 Statements Christians Need To Stop Saying: Part 2

by Frank Powell

So, here we go with round 2 of statements Christians need to stop saying. Let’s not waste any time. Here are the top 5.

5.) Love the sinner/hate the sin

I think I understand the premise of this statement, but I also think we are fooling ourselves if we say we really believe this. “Love the sinner/hate the sin” is a more subtle form of judgement. We think you are wrong for your actions. Let’s take homosexuals for example (I most often hear this statement used in the context of homosexuals). Do you really love the sinner but hate the sin? How many homosexuals are you friends with? Would they be welcome at your church? If you really loved the sinner, but hated the sin, would you not reach out to some of them and befriend them?

Seriously, in how many contexts is this statement used? We only use it for the “serious” sins. Pornography, adultery, homosexuality, murder, rape. Ever heard it used to describe lying or greed or stealing? Me neither. Maybe this should tell us something about the intent of this statement.

4.) Unspoken prayer request

I need to make a confession…I have never prayed for an unspoken prayer request. People post these all the time on Facebook, and I always wonder why. Here is the deal…I want to know what you need me to petition to God on your behalf. An unspoken prayer request is as vague as it gets. In class, if a student wants us to pray for an unspoken request, I will make them clarify their request or keep it to themselves. There is no transformation without clarity. I have no way to follow up on you and walk with you through your struggle. I don’t get it.

During Jesus’s ministry, He would often ask people, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus would even ask this question to those who were blind or crippled. Now, it sounds silly that Jesus would ask a crippled or blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Or does it?

Jesus knew that people often have no idea what they actually want, and he was going to make them clarify to him what they needed, even if the need was obvious.

Imagine a crippled man coming up to Jesus and saying, “Hey Jesus, I have an unspoken need. Could you please do this for me?” Sounds ridiculous. How are unspoken prayer requests any different?

If you do not want the world to know your problems, then find a few people you trust and get them to pray for you and walk with you. Clarity and specificity force us to expose our problem or need and provide an opportunity for others to pray intentionally for our individual need.

3.) Everything happens for a reason

Is that so? Tell me…how do you explain to the guy or girl who just tragically lost a parent or sibling that everything happens for a reason? What about me getting a ticket for parking the wrong way on the street this morning? Is God mad at me for watching too much tv? I mean, it was the Clippers/Thunder Game 5. I understand you mean well. You want to comfort the person who is hurting. But the reality is this is the last thing people need to hear when they are hurting.

Just some pastoral advice…stay away from the phrase “everything happens for a reason” when trying to help someone cope with tragedy. It does more harm than good.

I know when tragedy strikes, people are hurt and you want to say something to make it better. Believe me there are not words in those moments that can heal their wounds. What people need is not a wise statement from a sage but the comforting presence of a friend.

2.) The sermon was too long

There are few things that infuriate me more than this phrase. It comes in all sorts of packages. “Great sermon, but you just need to cut it down. I brought my stopwatch today. Just remember I am trying to make it to Red Lobster by noon.” Most of them are followed by a few chuckles and a back slap, but I know the comments are legitimate. Most of these comments are made by “Christians,” so I need to make two points:

First…if you are really struggling to make it through an hour or even two hours worshipping God, this is much less a reflection on the length or quality of the sermon and more of a reflection on your relationship with God.

Second…what kind of statement do you think this makes to those who are non-believers? They hear us talk about the sovereignty of God and how God alone is sufficient to sustain us and protect and comfort us, yet a sermon about God that is 45 minutes is just too long?! No wonder people outside of Jesus think of us as hypocrites. There are many days I am ashamed to be a Christian. Maybe instead of worrying about where you will eat or what time you are going to hit the golf course, you should listen to the sermon and allow the spirit of God to speak into your life. Please do me a favor and stop talking about the length of the sermon.

1.) I will be praying for you

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts we have as followers of Jesus Christ. Believe me, I get the premise of this statement, but we have taken this phrase and used it as a way to terminate our conversations with somebody else who is struggling. For many of us, “I will be praying for you” is a way for us to get out of actually having to walk alongside a person through difficult times. Honestly, how many times have you said, “I will be praying for you” fully knowing you had no intentions on praying for them?

We have taken the most powerful tool we have as followers of Jesus and used it as a tool to avoid taking action and being present through a difficult season in the life of another person.

Shame on us! How about instead of telling somebody you will pray for them (future tense), you actually stop right there (even if you are on the phone) and pray for them (present tense)? Or maybe you actually ask them what they would like for you to pray on their behalf? This specifies their issue for you, helping them to see you care and giving you an opportunity to pray specifically for their particular struggle. Or how about this…you decide to actually walk with this person through their struggle or difficulty? What a strange idea.

Whatever you decide, would you not agree that we must stop telling other people we are going to pray for them when our intentions are never to do so?


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Emily July 24, 2014 - 12:12 am

Wow, I came across your blog through a friend who posted one of your blog posts on Facebook. These were all spot on; I am taken back. 1 and 2 were both particularly compelling. My husband will love this, and I look forward to sharing it with him. You have now gained a new reader. Thank you!

Frank Powell August 5, 2014 - 10:20 am

Emily, thank you so much for reading and sharing! Blessings!

Deb July 25, 2014 - 12:58 pm

I think you make a lot of good points with this blog, but many of them really come down, not to what you say, but what is in your heart. The first one “love the sinner but hate the sin” is one I don’t say all that often, but try to live by, even for what we often consider “small” sins (although that is not true by God’s standard as sin is sin). For instance, I do not believe the type of social drinking many of my friends engage in is right, but I love them and I do not give them hard glares or turn my nose up at them, yet still I hate that they allow alcohol to cloud their judgement. But “The Sermon was too long” bothers me a lot. In some countries like Belize for instance, some people walk for miles and miles to worship and because of their long journey the will spend several hours in worship before they make the journey home. worship is so easy for us in the US but we want to fast track it the way we do everything else in our lives, make it more efficient, save time, get on with our busy schedules, etc. This attitude is the opposite of what Christians should have and it’s shameful to have the thought that the sermon is going too long much less say it to the preacher.

Frank Powell August 5, 2014 - 10:20 am

Deb, thanks for you comment!

Carol Newton Bonzack November 27, 2014 - 9:28 am

I disagree with nearly all 5 of these. I do hate the sin and love the sinner. I have friends who are homosexuals and yes, they would be welcome at my church. My eldest son whom I love deeply is an atheist. I have friends who dabble with drugs – I hate these things…but I love them. When they are in need, I am there (no I don’t hang with them while they are smoking pot) but I will hang with them at other activities.
Unlike you, I DO pray for those who don’t divulge every details of their need. I don’t need to know what they need in order to pray for them. God knows. I pray in the Holy Spirit that whatever that need is, that God will meet it and even at that moment let that person feel HIs presence as a reassurance that the answer is on its way.
Everything happens for a reason. It does. We may ever know the answers this side of heaven because our understanding is limited. But when we get to the other side, “the veil will be lifted” and we will then understand. Our ways are not God’s ways…even in painful times, and heartache He wraps His love around us and the send the Holy Spirit to comfort us. In times of tragedy, sometimes the best thing you can do is just hug that person and cry with them. Words are not always necessary.
I don’t think I have ever stated that the sermon was too long…so I will go with you on that one.
When I say (even on FB) that I will pray for you…I actually stop right then and there and whisper a prayer for you. (God put me in check on this about a year or so ago). Now if you live the other side of the country, I probably won’t show up in person to lend a hand, but I may send $ or place encouraging phone calls. If you are local…I will pray for you plus show up with 2 hands willing to work…or strong shoulders to help you carry your burden. It depends upon the need and what you have let me know you need. I put my heart where my mouth is.
So not all Christians say/do these things without being sincere.

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