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Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Snippet: Some More Christianese

Christianese, as it has been dubbed, is that list of  strange idiomatic phrases that Christians use and understand, but which make little or no sense to those outside the circle.  Some time ago I covered several examples, which you can read here, or by clicking the "Christianese" tag at the end of this post.  Today I thought I'd touch on a few more relating to prayer and the Christian way of life.
  • The Army of God--This is not the name of some hidden, nutty cult, or any sort of political group.  God has instructed us to obey the laws of the land, and to respect the leaders He has put in charge of us (Romans 13: 1).  So when Christians talk about being "soldiers of God" or doing "spiritual battle," it has to do with resisting spiritual forces by sharing our faith, standing up for what we believe in, and doing what is right despite pressure to sin.  It is not a doctrine directing Christians to go out and beat up on people for Jesus, or to convert people forcibly through military action and threats.  More often than not, the most violent action Christians take in spiritual battle is saying the word "no," but they receive violence in return (see Acts 4: 1-21; Acts 5: 17-42; Acts7).  Spiritual battles may end up having a physical component, but they are not actually fought with muscle and weapon; ultimately they are fought in the mind and heart, and there alone can victory be won. 
  • Prayer walking--When Israel marched in to the land of Caanan (what is now called Palestine), they encountered a fortified city named Jericho.  God instructed the army to march around the walls of the city once a day for six days.  Then, on the seventh day, He told them to march around again, seven times, and when the priests blew their trumpets, everyone was commanded to shout.  At the sound of their voices and the trumpets, the walls collapsed and the army moved in. See Joshua chapter 6.  A popular trend among Christians these days is to repeat this activity--walking around the perimeter of a place, such as a campus or mall, while praying against evil.  The idea is that we may not encounter physical walls, but there are entrenched supernatural forces of evil that we are resisting, in a spiritual battlefield.  For those who don't believe that evil can take up residence at a place, this doesn't make any sense.  For those who do believe, this prayer walking is done to remind us that our trouble is not from people, but from Satan, who wishes to destroy our souls and who wants to convince us he is not behind it all.  As Paul wrote, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms," (Ephesians 6:12 NIV 2010).  By the way, it is not necessary to walk around a place to pray for it.  God hears our prayers, wherever we are.  If it is needed to focus, or if God directed you to do it (often for the purpose of helping you focus), I say do it.
  • Agreeing in prayer--Jesus said, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them," (Matthew 18: 19-20 NIV).  Basically, when Christians all get together and pray as a group for something, they are "agreeing in prayer."  Now, let me clarify something here.  If a group of people all pray for something that is opposed to God's purpose and plan (i.e., God's will), they should not expect God to honor their request.  For instance, if they are all united in asking God to postpone judgment at the end of the world, He will not.  This is why it is important to ask God's will and to learn what is pleasing to Him by reading the Bible, before asking for something.  When we come together in Jesus' name, that is, like an army assembling under a banner, we should ask for things that are in agreement with His will, and pray that His purposes win out over the solutions we think are right.
 Thanks for reading!  Do you have other examples of Christianese you'd like to see explained?  I welcome comments.  If you like this post, please subscribe to my blog or share the link with friends (just don't send it to them if they don't want it).