Christianese Part 2

A few days ago, I wrote about how some terms are used within the church and few actually know what they mean.  Those within the church long for outsiders to come in and experience the joy of Christ (or at least I would hope so), but what if they come in only to struggle with interpreting the language.  One reason I don't jump on every opportunity to visit Japan is that I don't have the slightest clue with their language.  Many non-churchgoers are the same way with the church.  This isn't just something that outsiders struggle with.  Many people within the church are going along "smiling and nodding."

Here's a couple of terms that I've thought about over the past couple of days:

  • Believe.  Now this may come across as a shock but many are confused on the meaning of this term.  To the average person, to believe means to acknowledge that it exists.  What the church usually means by believe is to place one's trust in to the point that it determines the direction of your life.

  • Repent (also repentance). This is a word that many long to hear in the sermons at their church, but few actually get the meaning.  The real meaning is to have a change of mind that causes a change in behavior.  As the old illustration goes, you're going in one direction, you stop and immediately go in the opposite direction, never to turn back again.

  • Amen.  This word has baffled me for years.  We all say it at the end of our prayers.  Some are even bold enough to say it during the pastor's sermon.  What is the meaning of this word though?  It literally means "so be it" or "let it be so."  This can be a very dangerous word.    When you say this word, you are literally joining yourself together with what is being said.  Maybe we should be more careful with this one.  Maybe we should be using it more?

  • Flesh.  This term can easily confuse many.  Outside of church, it refers to the muscle, tendons, and other make-up of a person's body.  The church's use of this is something completely different.  The church uses this term as the nature of humanity.  When a pastor tells the congregation that we should crucify the flesh and live for the spirit, for someone who is thinking about having to get some nails and perform the crucifixion again, this can be very disturbing.

  • Fellowship.  As I think about this term, I laugh to myself.  I am a part of a Southern Baptist church and have been most of my life.  This term brings to mind one thing: food.  I don't know where in the world the church got off track with this, but it's not about food.  Don't get me wrong, I love food... food can be a part of fellowship, but eating together is not fellowship.  Fellowship according to the New Testament is about living life together.  You can read about how the believers spent all kinds of time together in Acts.  This was fellowship.

  • Discipleship.  This term I have struggled with for about three years now.  I think that a lot of people have an okay idea about it in our churches, but I think that many miss the boat completely in executing it.  This is the process of taking a person to the next step in their walk with Christ.  Discipleship begins at the point where a person follows Jesus Christ and doesn't end until they enter heaven.  Discipleship is hindered when we try to put people who are at different levels in their spiritual walk together into one group and make a leader "disciple" them all for an hour one day a week.  This is an area of the church that needs to be carefully done.  It is essential to the health of the Body of Christ (the church).

I will stop there for now.  I have many more that I could share.  What about you?  What are some terms that you hear frequently at church but aren't sure what they mean?