Smoking in the Trenches

There’s a really thoughtful article over at Sheologians this week discussing, among other things, how we use words and the importance of speaking Biblically. What does it mean to use Biblically sound words? Why is this important? We aren’t talking about not cursing here, it’s something fairly sneaky that’s happening, and it’s incredibly important.

“And so, when you peruse Evangelical Facebook and Evangelical Twitter and Large-Evangelical-Blog-Sites, often what you come across is a euphemism from the pit of hell to describe the state of sin we all experience. The Old Testament describes sinners as having the poison of asps under their lips and having throats that are like open tombs (try imagining the smell of that real quick) and here we are like, “I’m just so messy, teehee! Join me in acknowledging your messiness! Isn’t it great? Let’s all be messy together!”

The ones preaching the gloriousness of sharing in each other’s “messiness” are the ones that have given up the ghost. They aren’t the ones storming the tower. They’re the ones smoking a cigarette in the trench because what’s the big deal about taking the tower, anyway?

The word “sinner” has lost its place in decent conversation and it’s one of the most indecent things I have seen preachers, teachers, and bloggers do as of late. Language matters and here’s why. You do not have to repent from being messy. If you are messy, hire a maid, buy a vacuum, take a course on how to be organized. Or don’t. Not all messes warrant spiritual concern. However, if you are a sinner, there is nothing you can do but find a savior. When you give up sin for a euphemism, you lose the need for repentance. You lose the need for a savior. You lose categories that the world wants us to lose—like God’s holiness, justice, and wrath. Why on Earth would God send a messy person to Hell, anyway?

I mean, if being blunt about your messy means you are just full of moxie, it’s actually kinda charming, ain’t it?”

Did you catch the part about giving up? It’s a lost cause, so if you can’t beat em, join em. Somewhere along the line, we’ve redefined some things, and a lot of really beautiful souls are just sitting down in the trenches smoking a cigarette because they’ve decided storming the tower just isn’t worth it. I say it is.

As sin morphs into ‘brokenness’ and ‘brokenness’ becomes normal, we begin to celebrate sin. The important thing is that we are authentic, right? Here’s the thing; my authentic self that everyone wants me to just embrace and present to the world isn’t my best self. (Did I just touch on a Joel Osteen or Oprah book? I think I did…) The flesh is selfish and the heart deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and embracing it leads me away from repenting from it. I am, by nature, say it with me here… a sinner. So are you. It’s a heart condition before it’s a physical act, and we are born all with it. Our wishy-washy culture of comparison has convinced us otherwise. We aren’t as bad as so-and-so. The message that unrepentant sin and holiness can ‘coexist’ makes a mockery out of everything Jesus finished for us on the cross.

Here’s an example I see at least weekly:


Do you see the problem? It’s not you! It’s the rest of the world! Well, that means somewhere, someone has made it messy. Are there good people and bad people? Of course. To believe that we share no part in it is absurd. The entirety of creation is marred by sin, it’s in every crack and crevice, and it certainly is in every human heart. The world is a mess because we made it a mess. Collectively. Through our… say it again… sin. To deny that we play a role in it is to deny we need Jesus. Messes need a maid, sinners need a Savior. Otherwise, as the author of the article points out, God is in the business of sending ‘messy’ people to hell for no reason.

Words matter. People who constantly speak of ‘brokenness’ and never of ‘sin’ are missing something very big: we aren’t to wallow in it, we are to be free of it. Big difference.

Telling people they’re ok as long as they’re authentically messed up isn’t helpful. As ‘authentic’ as my sin is, I still don’t want it tagging along in my life. I want to be rid of it. This would be a different story if Jesus didn’t already break those chains, but He did! Jesus is Redeemer, Healer, Savior, and Holy. None of those things are necessary for someone who is simply too sassy or too messy. He doesn’t glue a broken person back together, He completely replaces whats broken with something entirely new.

Words matter.

All is not lost. Not even close. Take a peek inside His Word and you’ll see He’s all about making us whole, abundant and dare I say it, not at all messy. Don’t confuse this with perfection or never having problems, God never demanded that from us in the first place, we humans made that one up. He invites us to join Him in this messy, I mean sinful world regardless. Give em an inch and they’ll take a mile. We can’t allow God’s life-saving truths to be sliced and diced down into a nice philosophy we no longer recognize. Christianity is bold and effective on it’s own. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t change with culture, and we can’t afford to embrace teachers who say it’s ‘brave’ to call sin by any other name.

The words we use matter because they become the messages that we live by. Speaking Biblically matters. I don’t want to be the surrendered soul in the trench who gave up too much ground. I want to stay in the fight, and in today’s world the battle starts with our willingness to be upfront and honest with the words we speak.

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