If you're in the church any length of time you'll begin picking up on a jargon known as "Christianese." We've all seen sketches and blogs addressing this linguistic phenomenon. (The best one I've seen is Shoot Christians Say by Tripp and Tyler.)
"Wrecked by grace," "wrestling with," "just trying to seek God's will," and "praying for open doors" are some of the phrases we repeat because we know most Christians will understand what we're saying. Clichés are the fast food of words. We can quickly express what we're trying to express without putting in too much time or effort.
There's one phrase, however, that I think we need quit cold turkey. It is my personal opinion that the phrase "love on" must be permanently expunged from our Christianese phrase book. Every time I hear it I think to myself in an Inigo Montoya voice, "You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means."
I know what we're trying to say. I know. But it's just a bizarre expression that sounds...not like we want it to sound. I received confirmation of this a couple weeks ago when the following conversation happened during a Bible study I have with 6th graders:
Me: "Let's stay focused. I have to leave on time today cause I'm watching my friend's daughter and need to make sure she got home from school okay and feed her dinner."
6th grade girl: "How old is she? Should you have left her by herself?"
Me: "She's okay alone for a little bit--she's in 7th grade."
6th grade girl pulls out her phone--which is discouraged during our meeting time. She notices me notice the phone.
6th grade girl: "Sorry--I'm just texting to tell my dad to pick me up a little early cause you have to go home and love on a teenager."
Me: "Can you maybe reword that text?"
6th grade girl: "Why? That's what people say."
Other 6th grade girl: "'Love on' just sounds really...creepy."
I rest my case.
I don't want to leave anyone short an expression, so here are some suggested less creepy alternative phrases for "love on":
Show hospitality to
Exhibit brotherly kindness
Concern thyself with another's well being
Affectionately attend to the material needs of
Plant seeds of joy in their soul
Richly supply fellowship to
Tenderly cultivate into biblical community
Am I the only person who has a pet peeve with this phrase? What other suggestions do you have to replace it?