Exploring Cliche’ Faith

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey4 Comments

There are some mindless, trivializing Christian clichés floating around out there that drive me nuts. They are usually spoken by well-meaning people who are trying to sound piously assuring in the face of some difficulty. Or, they are meant to instill confidence in God when another’s faith may seem weak. Whatever the reason, they come off as banal platitudes from a spiritually elite who cares so much and knows God so well that he/she can speak a pithy proverb and make it all better.

God’s got this.

So all I’ve got to do is…nothing! I don’t have to apply any learning, wisdom, strength, or experience to anything that is happening to me – bad or otherwise. I don’t need to see a doctor. I don’t need to change. I can sit back and give all the responsibility to God to make something happen. I don’t need to ask anyone for help because God will handle everything for me.

God is good all the time.

This is usually applied by those who live in a fantasy world of superficial faith and happy-go-lucky spirituality. Of course God is never “bad.” Yet, often He hides His goodness from us so that we might seek Him out more diligently. Does this mean I can ignore or deny the bad that happens to me or anyone else in this world? How do we make sense of unborn babies being killed, Christians being beheaded, or corrupt governments oppressing the poor? Why doesn’t a full-time good God stop all evil? Perhaps there’s something more going on here that we don’t know or can’t explain. It’s better to experientially know God and His ways applying wisdom to life’s dilemmas than to flippantly through out cliches like this one.

Let go and let God.

Here’s another excuse to not be personally responsible for one’s actions. I guess faith means to bear no obligation to be a part of God’s work. Passivity is the key to being a good Christian. Faith is interpreted as doing nothing. If we do something, it’s not faith; it’s a work. Dad-blast-it! Now we’re back in the “works-righteousness” debate. What a mess!                                       

God is in control.

Really? So why does my cousin have cancer and why is my friend going through a divorce from hell? How do scoundrels get into office over the good guys? What’s with the California wild fires and hurricane Katrina killing 1200 people? It looks like there are times He takes vacations from His position as controller. Besides, if this is true, then I don’t have to manage anything. I can just let ‘er rip and God will take care of the mess I make. What a deal!

It’s a God-thing. 

As compared to most events in a day, there are really special times when God really shows up and really does something really special. If it borders on the supernatural or is simply out of the ordinary, this cliché may apply. Sunsets, sunrises, growing grass, fragrant gardenias, or hummingbirds usually don’t qualify. Neither do quiet conversations, solitary times with God, unanswered prayers, or tasty meals. God only occupies the extra-ordinary. His thing usually seems unreal. I guess He struggles to be a part of the real, normal stuff of life and creation. But, thankfully, we have those who recognize when He does show up then gladly inform us of His presence.

Each of these clichés seems to be an attempt at expressing faith in God. These things are said because they supposedly bolster faith in God.

Pardon my cynicism. They often do more to bolster the user’s reputation of piety than someone else’s faith in God.

It’s not like these clichés are untrue. It’s that they are too easily thrown about when substantial responses are called for. Their use indicates a superficiality which grips many modern Christians. That reality is what fries my bacon.

Real faith in God is developed in risky obedience and challenging struggles not by repeating overly simplistic pious mantras even when those phrases mention God.

Cliché faith or real faith. You decide.

4 Comments on “Exploring Cliche’ Faith”

  1. We all know that “God helps those who help themselves.” I think that was ole Ben Franklin. There’s some truth to that one, whaddya think Doc?

    1. Most cliches have a hint of truth to them – or they may be almost 100% true. In reference to “God helps those…” – if by that we mean we’re participating in His work, then I’m all for it. If it means I’m trying to work it out myself and “oh-by-the-way” God, will you assist me – that’s not always true. God is not our servant. I used to believe this wasn’t true at all. Synergism makes this cliche a little more plausible. Thanks for reading and commenting. Keith

  2. How about: “God works in mysterious way…” said to a woman who is experience a miscarriage… or “God works all things for good…” We can be so unkind in our surface, cliche responses. If we don’t know what do say, just be quiet and sit with the hurting person.

    How about “Let’s just do life together bro?” or when praying in a Christian circle, “I’ll dial in, you hang up, cool?”

    Love me some cliches… heh heh

    1. You’ve introduced a couple new ones to me. Again, there’s some truth in these. The problem is how they’re used as you’re pointing out. “Doing life together” as a cliche and treating prayer so casually is tragic. But, cliches foster that. They’re usually used superficially. When the cliche contains truth but is used flippantly, the truth rings hollow (to me anyway). I’ve got issues, no doubt. But then, “God is bigger than my problems.” Ugh!! Keith

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