In the church we’ve tried to keep up that tradition. Once upon a time people who follow Jesus were called ‘Christian’ or ‘little Christ’s’ derisively. Then we started calling ourselves by that name, taking power away from our oppressors by embracing what was meant as an insult. (I promise not to bring up the ‘N’ word and another group of people that were similarly oppressed, oddly enough by Christians – among others.) Then when it wasn’t enough to define being ‘in’ by the ‘Christian’ word we grabbed some others, born-again, born-again believers, spirit-filled, evangelical and on and on we go.
One word that we used to like was religion and religious. Once upon a time it was positive to describe someone as being ‘religious’, it meant they believed in God and practiced that belief by living it out. The English Bible even uses the word and says that taking care of widows and orphans is our pure, undefiled, undiluted, religion.
But ‘religion’, and ‘religious’ became bad words. Not as bad as ‘crap’ or ‘damn’ and definitely not as bad as ‘shit’ or ‘Democrat’ but pretty bad. It’s just something you were told you didn’t want to be. ‘Religious’ people were people who went through the motions, did the church thing but their hearts just weren’t in it. We don’t want to be religious and we pray for people who are religious to get ‘saved’ (I’m pretty sure that’s still a good word). The short version is, the ‘religious’ are out. Bummer for them.
But don’t worry about us, we’ll find a new word like we always do. When ‘Christian’ is murky, ‘born-again’ doesn’t do it, ‘saved’ has become too vague, and ‘Spirit-filled’ leaves room for the possessed; we need a word to nail down who the true believers really are. I’m suggesting, “God’s favourites”. Subtle, yet provocative. A conversation starter. It’s also seeker-friendly as no one is “lost” or “born only once” but just average, just, ‘not as special as we are’.
These terms are incredibly useful because they help us save time. We can use the new word with people we meet like this:
“Hey, are you one of God’s favourites?”
“Ha! You’ve already answered my question! If you were, you’d know what I meant!”
“Who are you and why are you in my living room?”
The ‘not as special’s will be intrigued and they’ll seek out our meetings so they can learn how to become on of “God’s favourites” too! Remember, it’s not about being an exclusive club, it’s about being a club exclusively for members!