Why Christians Love to Talk Smack

Margaret —  March 14, 2013 — 9 Comments

talk smack

Pulling into a church parking lot, I often find myself groaning at the bold, brazen, and boisterous declarations people make on the back of their cars.

There’s always the classic, “My child is an honor student” and the retort, “Your honor student sells bumper stickers!”

But I’m amazed when Christians really get into it. Like the Jesus fish stomping Darwin. Or the “God is not a Democrat” and “God is not a Republican” that gain popularity every four years. Or a church in Denver whose bumper stickers read, “My church can kick your church’s a–!”

Why do churchgoers place hard-to-peel-off statements on the back of their vehicles?

Because Christians love to talk smack!

Now there are a few arguably good reasons to talk smack if you’re a Christian:

  1. Christian smack comes from knowing we have the biggest, baddest daddy around. [Tweet this] Our daddy slings comets, paints the skies, and flips the switch to the best light shows in the universe. Our daddy made it all, owns it all, infuses it all, and holds it all together. Smackety, smack, take that.
  2. Christian smack comes from knowing we’re on the winning team. [Tweet this] Reading the Bible is a lot like Tivo—you can fast forward and see who wins. You can surf through scenes of the winners, the overcomers, and even catch glimpses of the rockin’ after-party. Knowing the victor before the game perpetuates a lot of smack talk.

Why Do Christians Talk Smack?The problem is, whenever we start using Christian smack, it’s usually not too long until someone calls us on it.

That’s right. We have to back up our smack or take the flack.

This isn’t new. An Old Testament prophet, Ezra, loved to talk prophetic smack about God. He boldly proclaimed, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him” (Ezra 8:22)

Boom. Bam. Slam.

The only problem was that, soon after He made this God-smack declaration, Ezra had to go on a dangerous journey. And because of his smack, he couldn’t ask the king for troops or protection. Ezra had to make the treacherous trip the old-fashioned way—by trusting God. He prayed, fasted, and begged God to back up His smack-talk.

Ezra was wonderstruck by the results. And the rest is Biblical history. (See Ezra 8:21-32)

So it’s okay to talk God-smack, but you better be ready to live it. Take that, yo.

When does Christian smack get the best of you or someone you know?


*This blog originally appeared as a guest post on Jon Acuff's blog, here.

**Original photo found here

9 responses to Why Christians Love to Talk Smack

  1. Margaret Polino Nicholas March 14, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Dear Margaret, I was pleasantly surprised , after reading the whole article, saved my opinion until I read it all. Really interesting view.

  2. Word.

    ~ D.J. Jazzy Jenny Lee

  3. When I see or hear such talk, I usually think of this passage:

    In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
    rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!

    And this and its surrounding context:

    Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    I’d suggest that this passage from Matthew 25 and, say, the Beatitudes are very representative about who the man Jesus of Nazareth conceived to be the “winning team.”

    Boom, Bam, Slam?

    No thank you, ma’am.

  4. Not a fan of smack talk, since I live deep in the Bible Belt, the smack talk here is not filled with love…usually. But, I loved your illustration and bless those prophets hearts, they had it rough at times but what faith and closeness of God they were able to experience!

  5. Great words. To add to them, we should be wary of escalation – if I can talk smack about God and my theology, then “Surely I can talk smack about the horrible job the church is doing…”

  6. Sorry, Margaret, I may be missing the point. Not only have I not had my coffee for the day, but I also do not own any bumper stickers (I have 4 kids, so there’s enough stickers and sticky stuff; I’m not sure why I would add more on purpose).

    “My child is an honor student” is your main (or at least first) example of a “smack-talking” bumper sticker commonly found in a church parking lot. Isn’t that also commonly found in a school or Walmart parking lot too? Isn’t that simply a common bumper sticker? Hardly unique to the point I think your article was supposed to make. This is where you should let me know where I missed the point.

    Like most people, I’ve seen the multiple Darwin/Jesus Fish permutations, though I’ll admit I’ve not seen the stomping one you mentioned. I’ve definitely not seen the last one which you saw on that one (two? three?) vehicle at that one church in Denver. Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend once – he was trying to make the point that churches are always “bashing” gays. When I told him I’ve been to many churches over decades and heard many sermons and have never found that to actually be true, and that it’s probably more of a felt sentiment, they said, “well, go to this one church that my cousin goes to, and you’ll see what I’m talking about!”…huh? I have to go to a specific church in order to realize that *churches* are always bashing gays? Do I also have to go on that one Sunday every 2 – 5 years where they happen to quote a verse that has the word “homosexual” in it, while squinting in a way that could be perceived as condemning?

    It just seems like, if this is really a big problem, there should be a plethora of much more common examples that are unique to the vehicles of church-goers (still confused about the “honor student” one). Aside from the endless Darwin/Jesus Fish battle, I’m having trouble thinking of any (again with the lack of coffee maybe.)

    But I don’t want to leave it at criticism (or confusion) of your intro. I did enjoy the points you made about good reasons Christian have to smack-talk, and I definitely think we do our fair share, that’s for sure!

  7. This was great for me today! Love the example of Ezra — guess I need to go back and re-read. 🙂

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