One word that has increasingly annoyed me within the world of Church -but actually more generally in life- is the word “Ish”.
What does “ish” mean, often it is really saying “I know we should be doing something (or not doing something) that I know we aren’t (or are)”. “Ish” (often accompanied by that wobbly hand gesture) is the word that illustrates the gap between what we “espouse” -that we say we do/don’t do- and what is “operant” -what we actually do do!
“Ish” means we’re sitting on a fence and not willing to make a stand, “ish” is the “lukewarm, neither hot nor cold” that Jesus says in his word to the people of Laodicea “makes him want to vomit” (Rev.3.16)
“Ish” means trying to have you cake and eat it e.g. I wonder if I’m left-ish to be trendy and liberal, but not left-ish enough to really want to make sacrifices to life the marginalised out of poverty? -I want to be ‘all-in’ and prepared to take the consequences of righteousness on the chin.
“Ish” is an embarrassed word, where we hedge our bets, we see what way the wind is blowing so we can go along with the crowd.
“Ish” is not a word I ever hear Jesus use, and the fruit of the spirit is not pre-fixed with “sort of” or “kind of” (another way of saying “ish”).
In fact he once said “If anyone puts their hand to the plough and keeps looking back is not fit for the Kingdom of heaven” (Luke 9:62).
We are not called to “Sort of follow him -ish” or “kind of pick up our cross -ish” or “repent-ish”.
“Ish” isn’t a word we use with our nearest and dearest -imagine if your spouse asked you if you loved them and you replied “ish!” -it is a sort of word that conveys no certainty, depth or on-going commitment.
You can’t build a movement on “ish” people because they are like shifting sand or wobbly jelly. They are not properly behind you, -especially when it matters- it doesn’t take much to swing them the other way, they’ve not nailed their colours to any mast, they have a foot in both camp, they waver and vacillate.
Yet, I wonder am I sometimes an “ish” person? -Sometimes the answer is yes!
Am I an “ish” Christian? -Again sadly sometimes again the answer is yes”
Which lead me to think, how can I become less “ish” in my life, my faith and as a community? As I thought of removing the ‘ish’ from my faith, I know I need God’s help to follow him.
So let’s have the courage of our convictions and live out our lives following Jesus with confidence, unapologetically, as we ask him to help us live our lives his way!