Dangerous Pronouns #1 – THEY

pronoun Many Christians make a big deal about the use of the word I too much in church. They complain about how people talk to much about I and me. They say the music is shallow because it refers to the first person too much.

Ironically, I used the word they twice in the last paragraph.

It is ironic, because I do not necessarily think I and me are the most dangerous pronouns in the Christian’s vocabulary. For me, it is they.

  • We trot they out every time we want to complain without complaining: “They are saying…”
  • We use they every time we want someone else to do something we’re supposed to: “They need to reach their friends…”
  • We default to they whenever a sermon should convict us: “They really needed that!”
  • And of course, we use it when something happens we do not like: “They’re doing it again!”

I wonder who this they is, and why if they are so active, they never seem to actually speak directly to me. How is that they are never in the meetings they need to be in and they always manage to get away with whatever they are doing.

One of the most difficult, but rewarding, things we can do as Christians is recognize that WE are they. Every time we think of them, we should just turn the focus on ourselves.

  • We are complaining but aren’t honest enough to admit it.
  • We need to be doing the stuff we’re supposed to do.
  • We really needed that sermon.
  • We are responsible for it.
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3 thoughts on “Dangerous Pronouns #1 – THEY

  1. I don’t know HOW many times I thought, “THEY really needed to be here to hear this.” and have also heard it said by others… It’s so difficult to face up to the truth and see what’s really going on inside our minds and hearts. I think we as God’s people need to confront ourselves- whether individually or as a church and get it right. God, take off our blinders to see what’s really going on inside the walls and inside our hearts.

  2. I would like to comment also on the use of the collective pronouns (we, they, us, etc…). It seems to me like consistent use of these words, even the personal ones, can SERIOUSLY detract from the personal nature our relationship with God. I’m not exactly sure the cause of this, but I believe it has to do with the number of people in the group. The higher the number of people, the greater the trend is toward thinking someone else will do it.

    So, in line with what you’re getting at by urging me and the rest of your readers to personalize our speech and actions, I would like to expound that the even more personal pronouns (I and me) are integral to your faith, my faith, our faith.

    I am the future of the Kingdom. I have viewpoints and understanding very specific to me and no one else sees things exactly the way I do. If I do not do my part, a very important piece is missing.

    I believe that the previous statement is true, and it’s also equally true with replaced with collective pronouns. “We are the future of the Kingdom. We have viewpoints…”. However, now, what the tendancy becomes is that someone else will pick up the slack giving me less of a feeling of personal responsibility. What’s true about this, though, is that the slack, in a manner of speaking, will be picked up.

    While a nose cannot function as hand, a ring finger can semi-adequetly perform the function of a pointer finger (yeilding mild confusion no doubt) (1 Cor 12). God will raise someone else to do what needs to be done. Additionally, my 1 talent will be taken away and given to the man with 10 (Mt 15:28).

    – My opinions 🙂

  3. Thanks, Wes.

    I would actually contend that there is no I without the WE of the church. The parts do not exist without the whole. There are many Christians trying to be lone rangers, doing their thing and unbeholden to Christ’s chosen community.

    Jesus chose the church – the community – as the agents of his transformation in this world. Yes, we each must be disciples; we each must deal with our personal sins; but we do so in community. This is inherent in everything Jesus did, from the choosing of the 12 to the outpouring of the Spirit. Everything was in community.

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