Christianity’s Dirty Words – your input needed!

I’ve had this sermon series in mind for awhile, and I think I’ve let it marinate enough in my mind that I’m ready to move forward with it soon. But I need some input. The idea behind the series is there are a lot of biblical words that have been co-opted by our larger society and redefined in such a way that gives them a negative spin.

 For example, the word “sin.” I had a parishioner tell me that she mentally turns me off whenever she hears that word in a sermon because its negative meaning was pounded into her while she was growing up. And I was told once by a pastor that I shouldn’t use that word in my sermons because it makes people cringe. She said I should use “brokenness,” to which I replied, “But Paul didn’t say, ‘The wages of brokenness are death’.” The word “sin” has been taken from its biblical context and so negatively redefined that people are afraid to use it. Therefore, the word loses its power both to help us understand our own condition and how we can be saved from it.

  The title of the series would be “Christianity’s Dirty Words.” Where I need help is determining which words or phrases to preach about. So far, I’ve come up with these: sin, salvation/being saved, obedience/submission, sacrifice, suffering, evangelism, community, stewardship, confession, death/eternal life/Heaven, doubt, healing, justice/mercy, miracle, peace, revelation, worship.

 I could also include some words that have positive meanings in our culture, but still have lost the potency of their biblical meaning:  Hope, grace, love, joy, service.

 Here’s my questions for you: what words am I missing? If you had to pick four to six words you’d like to hear sermons about, which ones would they be? Which ones most intrigue you? Who knows, if this goes well it may become my first book!



Filed under Sermons

10 responses to “Christianity’s Dirty Words – your input needed!

  1. Cheryl

    Hi Kory,

    Your list seems pretty inclusive. I might add to those: born again and Father. While I am very comfortable with the term Father, it seems to be a point of contention for some. Then the secularization (I am sure there is a better term) of it becomes contentious for others. I think it would be interesting to know how people feel about it and why they feel that way.

  2. I’ve got two more: Holy Spirit, which gives off kind of a weirdness/Pentecostal vibe, and Simply the name Jesus. Despite today’s cultural issues with “Under God”, “In God we trust”, etc., most people today are still WAY more comfortable hearing the word “God” than “Jesus”. Someone who refers to “God” is religious, but someone who talks about “Jesus” is just weird. “Jesus” has become sort of a softish, hippie-ish, turn-the-other-cheek-ish wussie word, perhaps carrying an implication that the hearer isn’t being “nice” enough.

  3. Hi Cheryl and Erik! Both of you make significant contributions to my sermon series. “Born again” is a great one, Cheryl! And Erik, your distinction between using “God” and “Jesus” is right on. Why are we so often afraid to speak his name? “God” seems so much more safe and non-threatening. When you can put a face to the name, it becomes more real. Good thoughts!

  4. Kim

    How about “speaking in tongues.” That thought always freaked me out. Even as an adult, I used to drive quickly past the church that supposedly had that going on inside.

  5. Mik

    Might I suggest….commitment and responsibility? To be continued.

  6. Mik

    On your posting about Hypocritical Chrstians, you make a wish that people would stop refusing to take accountability for their actions. I have the same wish. This lack of accountability is pervasive in our culture, I believe because of a stengthening focus on self-centeredness. I am very thankful to have found many gems in our church who model Christian service. They have inspired me to serve, and God has showered me with blessings as a result.

  7. Mom

    If it’s in the Bible, and I’ve heard that it is and that it isn’t – what about Rapture? Now there’s a biggie!

  8. Mom

    Nana came up with another word for you – thithing

  9. Wow, great suggestions everyone! Now I have to decide how to narrow down this list for a sermon series. Might have to do Pt. 1 and Pt. 2!

  10. Anne

    I have one word-Jew.

    So many connotations and prejudices surround this word even today. And it is often forgotten that it is a race as well as a religion.

    When we moved into our home there was a statue of Mary in the backyard. Many people who came over asked, “What are you doing with a statue of Mary? You are not Catholic. ” My reply- “Neither was Mary! You could say she was the first “Jewish Mutha”.” (smile).

    And what about those glorious pictures of a blonde haired, blue eyed Jesus hanging on so many of our walls? Have you ever seen a Jew who looked like that? If we go to Heaven and look for that image I think we’ll miss Him. To me he’ll probably look more like Klinger on M.A.S.H. (another smile.)

    How can anyone claim to be a Christian and be anti-semetic? Jesus was a Jew!

    Jesus never quit being a Jew. He said he came to “complete the law” not do away with it. And isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to live under the Law any more?

    Perhaps that is another word for thought-LAW.

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