I first came across the word “juking” several years ago when my college-aged daughter brought it to my attention. On a visit home she explained the meaning of this interesting term. I was floored when she defined it as Christians “over spiritualizing” every conversation. In fact, juking is just that, somehow turning every piece of communication into a spiritual principle, direction or cliche.
When she expounded on the subject further, I realized I myself had been guilty of juking. After all, that was the Christian culture; everybody juked. It was expected, especially from those in leadership. Adding a fitting spiritual platitude to every subject, pain or trial was common place, and not juking simply meant we were not very spiritual. In essence being spiritual was proven by the Christian flavor of our language. Some might call it “Christianese.”
Saying less is often more
Here’s what I’ve since discovered. Saying the right spiritual things all the time does not make anyone a better Christian or necessarily help the other person. In fact, being around juking can get quite annoying. When someone is down, the last thing they want to hear is an over spiritualized pep talk. Sometimes they just need a reassuring hug and to hear the words “I am sorry for what you are going through.” Sometimes saying little can carry more weight than saying more. Since God has full knowledge of the situation and we don’t, spending some time in prayer puts us in a better position to gain spiritual insight to pass on. Christians need to know it’s okay not to have the answers on the spot; God can minister effectively with or without our words. Most people simply need a listening ear.
Christian lingo finds its way in every circle
Interestingly, juking can come in many forms. It may be denominational, or it could be a spiritual emphasis of a church community. Whether it is conservative or liberal the results are the same — it takes on its own lingo particular to its focus with its own set of catch phrases. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that these words and terms are bad; they are good and often biblical. But they can become empty of meaning when rattled repetitively in every conversation.
I thought it particularly revealing that it is the millennial generation (which my college age daughter at the time was) that has picked up on this trend. The more I researched these young minds the more I discovered why they were so keen to this phenomenon, even to the point of giving it a title. They are not an easily fooled group, but are realists and are not impressed with overly spiritualized words, fads or trends in the Christian world. In fact, they are turned off by the pretense of it all. They are seeking authenticity and want to know it’s okay to be human and seek God. In their quest to find genuineness, they are checking to see if the reality of our faith reflects into our lives, not our spiritual repertoire.
Juking is nothing new
Even though the word “juking” is a new term, it’s not a new concept. Believe it or not we even see glimmers of it in the Bible. Remember the story on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus, Moses and Elijah? There was a classic response of juking from Peter when he was trying to come up with a spiritual assessment for a situation at hand. Consider the account:
“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” (Matthew 17:1-5)
What was Peter doing? He was juking; it’s that simple. He took verbal spiritual initiative, but God interrupted and didn’t even wait for Peter to finish his words. God turned the focus off Peter’s conclusion because it was limited to human evaluation. We too often reach into the world of spiritual presumption when we should stop and “Listen to Him.” All this situation required was observation and silence — a waiting on The Lord.
We forget that we are not only Christians, we are humans. We will have pain and suffering, and we won’t always feel okay. We won’t always have answers either. This doesn’t make us any less spiritual. We are all equally saved and covered in His righteousness. Grace means we no longer need to feel compelled to juke or whitewash our hurts with Christian jargon. Applying spiritual cliches when hurting is like rubbing salt in a wound. Turning our eyes vertically instead of horizontally at these times can take the sting away from juking. There is something comforting in knowing that God alone holds all the answers.
Paula Masters is the author of “Exceptional Bloom: Coming Alive After Fifty” and the founder of True Source Ministries, an online ministry to hurting women, found at tsmwomen.org. She stays connected with her readers on her “Over Fifty And Fabulous” facebook page and online at OverFiftyandFab.com.