The J-word. It’s the word that makes me sigh and ups my hackles all in one go. I don’t mean Jesus, by the way. The j-word is journey. Here are ten reasons* why I think it’s time to let go of the j-word in Christian circles.
1. Because I’m now over 40. Not that this is an excuse (although it is, kind of), but I’m beginning to know myself a little bit better. I’ve never really liked the word journey to describe the Christian’s life, but now I’m absolutely certain I don’t.
2. Because ‘the Christian journey‘ implies that we are travelling** somewhere to find God or spiritual enlightenment. Surely this is all backside-about-elbow? Because God finds us, not the other way around, and once he’s found us, if we’re doing any ‘journeying’ (suppress gag reflex) at all they surely it’s with him right at his side?
3. Because it’s a self-help term from La La land, and even there it’s seen as overused. No doubt someone might interject with John Bunyan and his Pilgrim’s Progress, but for a while now the self-help theorists have purloined it (see here: don’t mention the j-word) which is enough reason alone for dropping it like a hot coal. In fact it’s now a bit passé, really. Do we really want to use the discards of 80s California to appear to be contemporary Christians?
4. Because it’s an anagram of ‘Run Joey!’, which sounds like some earnest Australian children’s programme.
5. Because I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Carl Trueman seriously dislikes it. Which is almost reason enough by itself.
6. Because the thing about journeys is that while they can be fun, and often they are a disaster, ultimately they are not ends in themselves, and yet most people seem to talk about them as if being ‘on a journey’ is the main thing about being a Christian.
7. Because it taps into the obsession of the current milieu where process is seen as better than conclusion (another example here).
8. Because it’s just so overused. Seriously, can’t we think a bit more deeply about the words we use as we live our lives in relationship with Jesus Christ?
9. Because I’m also a Big Cyclist. And cyclists just don’t really do journeys. We either ride, or we train, even if we’re not actually training for anything in particular. (for example “I’m just getting out my cutting edge carbon fibre dollop of two wheeled loveliness to go out on a long journey”. No, no, and no again.)
10. Because it’s not very bloke-ish. Talking about your journey while in the showers after a grubby ride…well you can imagine the response.
*I say reasons, but don’t take it that they are reasonable.
**’Travelling’ is a word that seems not to be used quite as often, but is arguably worse. I’ve been asked ‘are you travelling with anyone at the moment?’ I was sitting down at the time. Am I travelling? Not right now, no. And if you mean “are you meeting up with someone regularly to carefully consider (I could use the word reflect but see below) how ministry and life is going”, why not say this?
***forgive me for prattling on but don’t even get me started on the word ‘reflective’.