That’s a good question.
I think I don’t use that phrase much because of my experience with that phrase. In my youth that phrase was used as a litmus test of sorts, a shibboleth for those of you familiar with that term (or familiar with West Wing).
Saying “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior” was like the secret password into a club that I wasn’t so sure I wanted into.
Because usually the people that I heard using that phrase were also the people who were talking about “spiritual warfare” and being good “Christian soldiers” and “working blessings” and “praying away the pain.”
All that phraseology was just noisy gongs and clanging cymbals to my ears.
I wanted to know what they thought spiritual warfare was and if they’d be “fighting it” if they had never been introduced to the concept. I wanted to know what they thought being a “soldier for Christ” meant in every day life. I wanted to know what they thought they were doing when they were “working a blessing” or what conclusions we’re to draw when we pray and pray and pray and the pain remains.
I didn’t want talk to be cheap; I wanted it to mean something. I want it to mean something.
Because, and this is the thing, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. But that sentence needs so much explanation around it for me, that just saying it to you or anyone else will not do, I feel.
Because just saying it to myself doesn’t do it.
And no doubt people say that phrase and say it with utmost sincerity and face value; I truly believe it. And I can speak that language, too, with much sincerity.
So, is Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior? Yes. Am I going to start adopting that language? Probably not.
But I will say that my trust in God is deeply rooted in the Christ event.
And, believe it or not, I think that’s approximately the same thing.
I could say it another way, but it wouldn’t be authentic to me.
And I prefer not to. It’s not how my spirituality is formulated. My spirituality is formulated with deep roots in experiences and connection that don’t lend itself very well to short phrases like this, I find.
I’m much more Richard Rohr than Rick Warren.
That doesn’t mean either of those spiritual realities are “better” than the other one (how could we measure that, anyway?). But it does mean that they present themselves differently.
And with a Christian history that needed a St. Julian as well as a Thomas Aquinas, that needed a Martin Luther as well as a Meister Eckhart, why should the fact that I don’t express my faith with these phrases, and that you do, cause us dissension?
So many churches are full of just Julians or just Luthers, just Rohrs or just Warrens.
What if we actually practiced radical community where you could lift your hands in praise while I fold mine in reverence and neither got annoyed with the other? What if we actually practiced radical community where you could claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior and stretched my comfort with that phrase, and I encouraged you to parse that a little more to go a bit deeper than just phrases.
Because, and here’s the biggest thing, I don’t want any of our talk to be cheap…even our talk about community.
Because if we all think the same things, talk the same way, use the same phrases, and embody the same spirituality, we have less a “community” and more of a “club.”
And Lord knows we don’t need more clubs in this world.
And I’m a reluctant Christian many times because our clubs dot the streets, and our communities are few and far between.