By: Laura Bennett
The Sea of Forgetfulness. Partaking in Christ’s body and blood. Dying to yourself. The mark of the beast. Getting caught up in the air.
Out of context, some of the language used regularly in church sounds more like it belongs in some sort of weird horror movie.
As a kid listening to the sermon every week from my wooden pew (that, no doubt, caused a great deal of scoliosis to invade my back), I would constantly hear phrases I didn’t understand at all—but that didn’t stop them from terrifying me to the core of my tiny being.
Some strange church sayings are direct quotes from the Bible, but to someone not familiar with the whole story of the Bible, they’re mind-boggling.
For example, I understand the term “born again” is in the Bible, but maybe preachers should just take a moment to explain it? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to casually mention the seven-headed beast rising up to eat the newborn baby in Revelation, so why are we so casual with other confusing terms? Here are a few that kept me up at night and what I thought when I heard them:
1. The Lamb That Was Slain
Every church nursery has one of those murals on the wall of Jesus talking to kids while holding a baby lamb in His arms. I didn’t want that lamb to die. Sunday night services ended right around my bedtime, so the last thing I needed was to have the mental image of a sweet lamb being brutally slaughtered by demons. As a kid, when I heard everyone celebrating the murder of sheep, I really began to get nervous about taking friends from church to the petting zoo.
2. Washed in the Blood
If you tell a 10-year-old that he should be washed in blood, he’s probably going to imagine something closer to the opening scene of Blade than a loving Jesus who wants him to be happy forever. I pictured Jesus standing next to a giant bathtub that He was bleeding into while trying to make me dive into it like a Steven Curtis Chapman song in ’99.
3. On Fire for God
This one is still used quite a bit when describing those who are passionate about Christianity and/or wear a lot of Christian parody T-shirts. The problem is that we were taught to avoid fire from Hell, so why is God’s fire so much better? Can you guys just not burn me? Is that an option? One time I tried to start my dad’s propane grill and it blew a giant fireball into my face. Please don’t make me experience that again. I’ll never flirt with girls in Sunday school again, I swear.
4. The Holy Ghost
The first time I heard this, I didn’t think, “Oh, it’s a comforting spirit.” All I heard was, “Casper is real.” My mom tried to explain it as part of the Trinity, but that definitely didn’t help. “You see, honey, God is the guy in charge, Jesus is His son, and the Holy Ghost is, uh, their pal. Technically, God is Jesus’ dad, but they all join forces to become one. It’s kind of like Planeteers from Captain Planet, except it’s not a sin to watch TV shows about them.” Got it!
5. Born Again
I honestly thought I was going to be a baby all over again, but I would have my current thoughts and knowledge without being able to express them. That was some next level Twilight Zone stuff. When I was told I had to be “born again” to get raptured, I seriously had to weigh the options between the tribulation and becoming one of the babies on Rugrats.
6. Jesus Is Knocking On the Door of Your Heart
My heart has a door??? This sounds like a serious health concern, and I can’t find any evidence of this in my health books. Do I control how this door opens and closes? Should I lock it? Can other people get in there, as well? The questions were unlimited and equally terrifying. I just thought that if a grown man was beating his fist against my chest like Marky Mark in Fear, surely I would notice.
7. I’m Not of this world
I blame Skillet and their Alien Youth album for perpetuating this saying into every youth group in America—but the album was just so catchy. The problem is that when you tell a kid in 1996 that you’re not of this world, the first thing that comes to mind is The Monstars from Space Jam, and that is definitely not something you should be associating with.
8. The Lamb’s Book of Life
Is this the same lamb we killed earlier? Now it seems as though murdering him wasn’t enough, we’re also going to take his books. How about we just leave the farm animals alone for a bit, OK, pastor? It’s making me legitimately sad.
9. The Devil is a Roaring Lion Seeking Someone to Devour
Great, not only does he control fire like one of the X-Men, he also may or may not be Scar from The Lion King coming to murder me. Can we please just get a flannelgraph and stop giving me night terrors?
10. The Sea of Forgetfulness
So you’re telling me there’s an ocean where anything that falls into it disappears forever and is forgotten by even God Himself? Yeah, that’s not going to make me want to learn how to swim. I’ve seen 300. I know what happens when someone falls into a hole of forgetfulness. No thanks.
11. Guard Your Heart
Is this something I should have been actively doing? Because I haven’t purchased any form of security or protection, so there’s a good chance I’ve already been invaded. You told me earlier that Jesus was knocking on my heart’s door, so I left it unlocked. You never told me there were goblins and cretins trying to get in there as well. Now I’m having a full-on panic attack.
This article was originally published on RELEVANT Magazine.
Article supplied with thanks to Laura Bennett.
About the Author: Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.