About Relationships

Today's role for a Christian woman takes many forms working together - mom, sister, wife, home maker, career women, and more. All of these relationships demand your time and attention. At iBelieve.com we want to help you grow in healthy relationships whether you’re single and dating, newlyweds, married or widowed. Find encouragement and feel uplifted with the sharing of personal experiences from women in every walk of the Christian women’s life.

10 Christian Cliches that Confuse (and Hurt) Unbelievers

  • Michelle Lazurek
10 Christian Cliches that Confuse (and Hurt) Unbelievers

Before I became a Christian, I was unfamiliar with the Bible. So when Christians spoke about God and the Bible, I sometimes didn’t understand them. Christians immersed in church culture adopted the language without giving thought to the meanings behind their words. This is especially evident to those outside the church doors. Christians have good intentions, but sometimes that intention gets buried underneath cliches that, when overused, lose their meaning and communicate confusion instead of wisdom or comfort.

Here are 10 overused cliches that Christians should remove from their vocabulary:

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

1. “I’m blessed”

This phrase is easy to misunderstand. It’s great when life is going well, but what about when it isn’t? Are we still blessed then? This phrase becomes a problem when we say we are blessed only when things are going well. For those who may be experiencing a trial, hearing you this phrase may seem like God likes you better than He likes them.

Instead: Communicate that God is good and that you are blessed in both trials and easier times. 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

2. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”

God often gives us more than we can handle. He puts us through situations at times so unbearable it makes us cry out to him. Paul was beaten, persecuted, and thrown in jail for his faith. David, after losing his son, cried out to the Lord in despair.

God wants us to run to Him in times of trouble. If we weren’t in over our heads, drowning in our circumstances, would we ever come to Jesus in need? 

Instead: God sometimes gives us more than we can handle, but He is always with us during those times.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

3. “Washed in the blood”

This poetic phrase is likely familiar to Christians who have lived immersed in Christian culture for years. But we sometimes use Christian jargon around unbelievers without explaining what it means. When we say someone has been “washed in the blood,” we mean they have been cleansed from their sin through Christ’s blood on the cross. But what might unbelievers think? It sounds like a scene from The Walking Dead! Let’s try to use language that will pique an unbeliever’s interest, not cause them to feel squeamish.

Instead: God completely removed the guilt and shame of my sin.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

4. “God has you in the palm of his hand”

God can perform miracles in ways we may not otherwise think is possible. But when a fellow believer is going through a deeply difficult situation, this phrase may be less than comforting. To hear, “God’s got this,” may sound like sarcasm to people who feel like God is ignoring them. While this statement is biblically true, it may contain a less than comforting interpretation to those less versed in Scripture. 

Instead: Gently show them where this phrase originated: Isaiah 48:13-19. In this passage, the Lord comforts his people who feel abandoned by Him. 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

5. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”

If the requirement for Christians is to be clean to be godly, than we all are in big trouble. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory. We are all sinners and need God’s grace for salvation. God makes us clean through His holiness. But if cleanliness puts us close to God, then what about the homeless, who may not have access to water to bathe? Or what about people in third world countries who have to walk miles just to get drinking water? Can they not be close to God, too? While it may seem that those that have it all together may be closer to God, only he knows the true state of the heart, which may be the dirtiest part of us after all.

Instead: Talk about how Jesus focuses on hearts, rather than outer appearances in Matthew 23:26

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

6. “I’ll pray about it”

You may honestly mean this and pray about something with the intention of seeking the Lord’s guidance. But often this phrase is used as an escape clause to get out of doing something people know they should do, but don’t really want to. Unless your conscience is screaming at you to decline, the request is likely an opportunity to be obedient to God.  I am not saying prayer is a bad thing, but when you use it as an excuse to let fear rule over obedience, the phrase becomes hindrance rather than a help.

Instead: Use this phrase when you honestly intend to pray about a decision. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

7. “If it’s God’s will”

Good news! We know God’s will right now. You know what it is? It’s contained in the sixty-six books of the Bible. That’s why it is imperative that we read the Word of God - so we can know Him and His will. We want God to come down from heaven and tell us specifically what to do, but more often than not, God uses the wise counsel of others in addition to His word to communicate His will clearly to His children.

Instead: When unbelievers look to us to guide them through tough situations, let’s use it as an opportunity to introduce them to the word of God.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

8. “If I feel led”

The Bible is filled with people whose faith was tested when they were asked to do the things God was calling them to do. Moses didn’t want to speak because He wasn’t eloquent. Peter didn’t want to walk on water because he didn’t trust his abilities.  We won’t always “feel” like participating in God’s will. After all, “the heart is desperately wicked and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Just because we don’t feel like it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

Instead: We can discern what God wants us to do through prayer, reading His Word, and seeking godly counsel. (See slides 6 and 7)

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

9. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

This verse, Philippians 4:13, is one I hear quoted by others all the time. Although it gives Christians the idea that they can do whatever they set their mind to, its context is actually the opposite. Paul is talking about the idea of contentment. He states in verse 12:

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

He is saying that Christ will give him strength in the times when he is in need and that he relies on God (not His own strength) to see him through difficult times.

Instead: Apply this verse appropriately, given the biblical context. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

10. “God works in mysterious ways”

There is truth to this idea found in scripture: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) But this phrase can sometimes serve as an excuse that translates to, “I have no idea what God is doing, and I don’t want to find out.” It’s easy to make God the bad guy and simply announce that you don’t understand His ways.

Instead: Consider whether this phrase would really be helpful. To someone who is already confused by God in the first place, they may need to hear something different, such as God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. 

Bottom line: Think before you speak. While you may intend to provide comfort, hope, and encouragement to an unbeliever with these phrases, sometimes it’s better to think of something else to say, or in some cases, say nothing at all. 

Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock