9 Common Lies Christians Believe: And Why God's Truth is Infinitely Better
:Maybe God isn't who you think He is. Maybe He's much better. Pastor and speaker Shane Pruitt guides readers in identifying the Christian cliches we've all heard that are actually unbiblical lies. He then counters with the truths about God...
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:Maybe God isn't who you think He is. Maybe He's much better. Pastor and speaker Shane Pruitt guides readers in identifying the Christian cliches we've all heard that are actually unbiblical lies. He then counters with the truths about God as presented in the Bible, truths that bring encouragement and freedom for our lives.
God won't give you more than you can handle. Really? Pastor and speaker Shane Pruitt shines a light on this and other Christian cliches that upon further inspection are actually unbiblical lies that keep far too many believers stuck in spiritual immaturity.
SHANE PRUITT and his wife, Kasi, live in Rockwall, Texas, with their five children. He has been in ministry for over 17 years as a denominational leader, church planter, pastor, and traveling communicator. He currently serves as Director of Evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He holds a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies, a Master's in History, and a PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling.
He is a popular blogger, and has had articles appear in RELEVANT, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, CrossWalk, Church Leaders, The Baptist Press, FaithIt, HelloChristian, and many others. Shane and his wife were featured as ABC's Nightly News "Persons of the Week" in August 2017 - the story centered around their adoption.
The Truth Shall Set You Free from Bad One-Liners
One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Three one-thousand. Deep breath. Keep it in. Just breathe… It took every ounce of willpower within me to suppress the urge to scream at the top of my voice. But with God as my witness, I never uttered a word. Instead, if you could have seen the thought bubble above my head, well, let’s just say it wasn’t one of my most spiritual moments. Yes, rather than completely freaking out my neighbors who were outside at the time, I bit my tongue (almost off) and set my sights on an orange flowerpot and viciously spiked it into the ground like a football. That helped, a little. No, not really.
Here I was, a church planter and pastor of a rapidly growing congregation. My wife and I were happily married. We lived in a multiple-bedroom house. We had friends and family surrounding us with love and encouragement. Yet I was standing in the backyard, screaming in my head and spiking flowerpots with my hands. In case you don’t know, here’s the deal. We pastors consistently feel extreme pressure to mask our weaknesses. We don’t have the freedom to be ticked off. We must always keep it classy and cheesy with an arsenal of Christian clichés at our disposal. On the outside, we love for you to believe we’re walking in the freedom of truth, but on the inside, we know it’s fake. Sadly, we’re too good at selling the fake, and we’re trapped by common lies that we believe all too quickly. Or at least I was.
One of my neighbors gave me a puzzled look. “Shane, you all right, brother?”
Almost without thinking, I said, “Absolutely! You know me. I’m too blessed to be stressed, my man!”
I cannot believe I really said that. The truth is, it was a lie! I was broken, confused, and flat out sick and tired of hearing one-liners wrapped in pretty Christian paper but offering no power to help us in what we were going through as a family.
And what were we dealing with? All right, sure, I’ll tell you.
As a couple, Kasi and I always knew we wanted to adopt. It was something we talked about from the minute we got married. We planned on having biological children first and then starting the adoption process. We had it all figured out, or so we thought. After we’d had two daughters, both of us had a picture in our minds of what our son would be like. We envisioned him playing with our girls, excelling in football, and growing healthy and strong. Needless to say, we imagined The Blind Side version of adoption. However, our creative God had a plan to put to death our shallow view of the picture-perfect family.
When we began the process to adopt, our two biological daughters were six years and eight months old. Kasi and I had no idea what this journey would entail, but we knew without a doubt that God was calling us to adoption in this particular season of our lives. We started researching agencies, found one, and began praying through the countries the agency worked with. Initially, we decided to pray about it for several days, but that first night, we had a feeling of peace that Uganda was the place we’d find our son. We did all the paperwork and training, and then the real wait started. We were on a waiting list and soon found out it would most likely take much longer than we’d ever imagined. So we waited and prayed for the son we knew was there but had never met. Ironically, Kasi would often pray that God would bring us a child no one else wanted—a child who needed love and a family but had little to no hope of either. Still, we both visualized what our son would be—big, muscular, and Christmas card photo ready.
Kasi woke up one morning and discovered an email from someone she knew only through Facebook. The person asked if we were open to adopting a child with special needs. Kasi wrote back asking for some clarification. We knew very little about special needs but enough to understand it is a very, very broad term. Special needs could describe something as small as a missing finger or as big as needing constant in-depth care. Kasi found out the little boy in question had gangrene and needed surgery as soon as possible. After she shared the email with me, we both decided to take the next step of finding out more.
Soon we received an email from the director of the children’s home, telling us more about him. This baby, named Praise, was severely malnourished and had a huge infection on his head. And then we saw his picture. Tiny. Precious. We fell in love immediately. Could this be our hoped-for son?
We asked for as much medical information as possible. What followed was a picture we’ll never forget. On the first picture we received, his infection had been covered. Not on this one. When we viewed this picture, our stomachs dropped. We could hardly speak, and Kasi began weeping.
We prayed, hugged, prayed, cried, and prayed more. It was as if we both knew what God was clearly telling us to do, even though we initially didn’t want to admit it. We struggled with thoughts like We can’t handle this. This is going to be too hard. We have no clue what we’re doing, what he needs, or how to take care of him. We certainly don’t have time to take on something like this.
After much information and even more prayer, we decided this sweet, tiny boy was indeed our son, the one we had been praying for all along. Okay! We can handle this after all, we thought. We’re ministry leaders, which means we have a huge S on our chests for being Super Christians, right?
Kasi and I traveled to Uganda to complete the legal process to adopt. When we met our son, whom we named Titus, we could tell he was developmentally delayed, but we attributed this to his being in the hospital his entire life. As time went by, we began to sense something more going on than we were initially told.
Upon our return, Kasi made an appointment for us to see an international adoption doctor. One of the things we’d noticed in Uganda was that our son was very stiff. He also had some spells of jumping and jerking. We explained all this to the doctor, and he admitted Titus for observation. What was initially supposed to be one night turned into four. During this stay, we learned that there was much more going on with our son and that our suspicions were correct.
The short version is that Titus was experiencing seizures—a lot of seizures. At the time, he was having over twenty a day. He also had some trauma to his brain, and it wasn’t quite the size it should be for a seven-month-old boy. The doctors couldn’t give us any clear picture of what his life would be like. Would he catch up? Would he walk? Would he talk? These were answers we desperately wanted, but they were answers the doctors couldn’t provide.
One day his doctors came into the hospital room, shut the door, turned off the television, and said they needed to talk. That day our life changed forever. We sat in shock while our son was diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Most likely, he’ll always be in a wheelchair, we won’t ever get to play catch with him or see him run up and down a hill, and we’ll never be empty nesters.
Lord, what are You doing? This is not what we asked for, nor is this what we agreed to. Right, God? We had an agreement. After all, we’re doing something spiritual here. We’re caring for orphans like You commanded! This was Your idea! We’re being obedient, unlike other “superficial” Christians. Come on, God, we’re probably Your favorite pastor and pastor’s wife, so You should honor our wishes and our good and perfect plan for our lives! We can’t handle this!
A Most Dangerous Game
Over the next year of constant doctor’s appointments, an MRI, an EEG, and three surgeries, we fell into a routine, almost a kind of game. It was a game of convincing everyone around us that we were okay. In fact, hey, we were doing great! Kasi turned inward, and I hid in busyness. We kept it spiritual and repeated lies to ourselves that sounded very Christian. We told everyone, “God won’t give us more than we can handle. We just need to work harder and try to have more faith.” But we were playing a most dangerous game.
Kasi was sad, angry, and even bitter. I was aloof and was romanticizing the “superspiritual” thing we’d done. However, inwardly we both knew this was not what we’d wanted. We’d wanted to come home with a perfectly healthy child. Kasi and I had filled out a checklist of special needs we were open to when adopting. This checklist ranged from learning disabilities to HIV to the inability to walk or talk, and I am sad to say we were not open to much on the list. God, You didn’t honor our checklist, and that really ticks us off! Yes, we both had overflowing thought bubbles above our heads.
During this extremely challenging year, a steady flow of well-meaning Christian clichés flew our way, but they had little to no impact on our daily lives. No, I take that back. The clichés had a very high impact—in fact, they stirred a lot of annoyance and guilt, which is a nice way of saying they drove us completely nuts. While we tried to hold on to truth like “God is in control. He is with us. He has not forgotten us. He is doing all things for His glory and our good,” those statements were being drowned out by pop psychology one-liners that aren’t Christian at all but have been adopted by Christians, integrated into their belief systems, and are now a part of the Christian vernacular. Kasi and I were wrestling to separate what we knew to be truth from what we’d allowed to creep into our thoughts. We had both been to Bible college. I have four degrees in biblical studies, church history, theology, and Christian counseling. I’d read dozens upon dozens of books on Christian doctrine and orthodox beliefs. As a preacher of the Word of God, I would preach verse by verse through the Scriptures. However, when all hell broke loose in our lives, we chose to be entrapped by common lies instead of finding freedom in biblical truth. As a family, we were not prepared to walk in freedom in the midst of suffering. At this point, we were mad! Maybe we were mad because we were confronted with our own entrapment, or maybe we were mad that God was in control and not us. The bottom line is, we were mad.
At the same time, we felt guilty that we were struggling, hurting, and wanting to be in control. Please, Lord, if You’re really in control, could You control people to stop telling us lies that make it seem as though we are in control and You’re just here to make us happy?
The game went on until Kasi and I broke. We shattered, and for a season we simply fell apart. The common superficial lies that we believe as Christians and pass off to one another as truth were not the least bit helpful when things got really hard. They were like sand to a thirsty man.
Truth, Freedom, and Intact Flowerpots
Back to the backyard. As I was throwing my aforementioned hissy fit, Kasi sat down to talk to a friend who also has a special-needs child. She gave Kasi advice that would change everything for us. She said, “It’s okay to grieve. You have to. What you imagined you were getting is not what you got, and it’s okay to be sad. Be honest before the Lord. He knows how you feel anyway. You may be able to convince everyone else you are okay, but He knows you are not. Stop with the canned clichés you think you’re supposed to say and others want to hear and get authentic and real about what is going on inside you.”
We had convinced ourselves that we had to be okay. After all, we were not only Christians but also Christian leaders. We’re supposed to put on a happy face no matter what and toss around a bunch of one-liners that sound spiritual, right?
No, that’s not right. Not at all. Kasi and I decided to stop playing the game. We committed to move past the religious jargon and turn our focus back to the intended truth of the Word of God. Once we dug deeper than what cultural Christianity has to offer, we began to get real with the Scriptures again. Thankfully, this caused us to be honest about our struggles and become authentically unafraid to speak about our failures and letdowns. Then and only then did we begin to walk in freedom, the sweet freedom that brings the beautiful comfort and transformational power to walk through any storm and face any mountain. The truth of God’s Word reminded us that God is doing all things for His glory and our good. It’s only in this freedom that we can truly experience a peace that is beyond understanding. Now, please hear me: It wasn’t like the clouds parted, angels started singing, and everyone lived happily ever after. Our season of life was still hard. But instead of playing a game, we began to live honestly before God, each other, and the people around us. And that’s made all the difference.
My hope is that the pages of this book are an invitation for you to do the same. Together, let’s tackle head-on the most common lies Christians believe today. You know, the ones that cause our faith to lose its voice of relevance, power, and effectiveness. Some of the lies we’ll address are based on incorrect views of Scripture, and they hinder our spiritual maturity because we are not walking in truth. Other lies deeply affect our thinking and actions because we have forgotten what the Bible teaches about the character of God. Then there are lies Christians believe that are not based on Scripture at all. Rather, they are cultural teachings and spiritual-sounding clichés that snuck into the church, got baptized, and then joined the ranks of actual truth. But regardless of the kind, these lies are all enslaving.