Cringing at Christianese

Having been raised by a Hindu father and a Christian mother, I have decided not to put myself into either of those boxes. I believe in God; I know others like to call ‘it’ a ‘higher power’ or ‘the universe’. I’ve grown up with ‘God’ and that term still works for me.

My sister and I occasionally accompanied our dad to the temple. We went to church with our mum pretty much every Sunday and it was there that my spiritual foundations and moral framework was formed.

I am in awe of Jesus and want so much to learn from his ways and follow his example. I can honestly say that knowing Jesus has changed my life and made it all worthwhile. Still, if I’m being honest with you, feel tentative and at times with being called a ‘Christian’ for three main reasons:

  1. The term implies quite a few beliefs or values that I personally cannot align myself with

  2. I cannot squeeze myself into that box

  3. I don’t think Jesus came to create a religion

It’s possible to describe God but impossible to define God. So, it makes sense for me to be able to describe my spirituality without having to define it.

I do, however, plan on spending the rest of my life trying to figure out what all of this is about because this relationship with God has had a profound impact on my life and is life itself to me.

It’s very important to my husband and I to raise our daughter as a critical thinker with her head screwed on tight but also to have a strong set of values and her own spirituality and relationship with her creator, whatever that looks like for her.

But yes, we do take her to church with us. And we’re still yet to find one where we’re not cringing at least once a fortnight at something that’s been said from the pulpit. But if I’m being fair, the life-giving and inspiring words spoken from the pulpit always outweigh the cringe-worthy stuff.

And as I heard someone wisely say the other day, “Church is not a club. It’s a body.” That helped me embrace the imperfections of the church (and in myself) more comfortably. And it encouraged me to be more bold in speaking up when I disagree with something that is taught.

I still consider myself a student of almost all other religions in that, I think there is so much beauty and goodness to be taken away from other cultures and faiths.

I sometimes talk about my spiritual journey in my videos and on my blog. I understand that there will be many readers and viewers who don’t believe in God. My job is not to change their minds. I have no desire to ‘convert’ people through this platform. I respect the conclusions they have come to.

Perhaps like many of them, I can’t stand ‘Christianese.’ I’m tired of our jargon and apologise for it. Churches are imperfect; we’ve had paedophiles, frauds, liars, people-pleasers and arseholes of other sorts walk in and out of our buildings every weekend. Myself included.

But so has the rest of the world. And we need to unashamedly call out dodgy behaviour in ANY organisation, without hesitation. It is NOT acceptable and it is NEVER okay for people to abuse people, platforms or resources, no matter what their title is or how ‘holy’ they seem. [Also, abuse doesn’t have to be sexual. It can be emotional, physical or even a severe lack of stewardship from a leader when it comes to their people.]

However, I cannot deny that many of the most profound and life-changing moments of my life have come about in a church setting;

Looking into someone’s eyes, seeing their pain and praying for them with your whole heart.

Having someone else pray for you and encourage you when the roles are reversed.

Seeing people’s faces filled with joy as they put aside hours and days to volunteer their time to a cause beyond themselves.

Hearing angelic voices sing and seeing a crowd of people leave behind the hardships of the week to be present in the moment.

Feeling my eyebrows chill out after walking around with a furrowed brow for days, worried about something. Then someone at church will say something to encourage me or change my perspective.

So, where does that leave me? I believe in Jesus. I’m imperfect but trying to be a better human every day. Does that make me like many other Christians? Yeah. Does it make ME a Christian? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But if the word ‘Christian’ simply refers to someone who thinks the world of Jesus and believes in his cause (us and the world around us), then yeah.

Regarding the political guff surrounding the term ‘Christian’, that's a whole other can of worms and a major part of the reason I struggle to apply the word to myself.

As for church; yes, it’s changed. But it needs to change again. And again and again and again. Until there is no longer a line between ‘church’ and ‘not church.’