Slang dictionary

come to Jesus

[kuhm too jee-zuh s]

What does come to Jesus mean?

In the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. Amen. 🙏 Uhh … 

Outside religious contexts, come to Jesus refers to a meeting or moment where one undergoes a difficult but positive and powerful realization or change in character or behavior.  

Related words

Jesus piece, Jesus take the wheel, Jeebus, John 3:16, yes ma'am, books of the Bible

Where does come to Jesus come from?

25 and Rambling

Early record of come to Jesus comes in the 1870s, when the phrase was used to mock Christian proselytizers as not practicing what they preached. The phrase evidently emerges from 19th-century Christian revivalism, which pushed for personal conversion to Christianity—to turn away from the devil and save their souls by coming to Jesus. In the early 1900s, come to Jesus described the clothing worn by these preachers (e.g., a come-to-Jesus collar).

Ok … enough religious history.

By the 1970s, the expression had become a metaphor for a transformative meeting or moment—like a hard talk, a wake-up call, facing the facts, an intervention, seeing the light.

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Just as finding Jesus is said to save a person’s soul, a come-to-Jesus meeting or moment results in new, though difficult, understanding or behavior (i.e., changing one’s ways).

By the the 1990s, the expression had become familiar enough to stand for such a meeting or moment all on its a own (e.g., Our son needs a come to Jesus about doing well in school or People need a come to Jesus about their smartphone addiction).

Come to Jesus is often seen as a business or workplace cliché. Supervisors, for instance, may have a come to Jesus meeting with employees if performance needs serious correction. Come-to-Jesus moment won Forbes’ magazine’s cheeky 2013 Jargon Madness competition, which pitted overused corporate buzzwords against each other à la March Madness basketball brackets.

25 and Rambling

Examples of come to Jesus

They better have a come to Jesus meeting in the locker room cause this is not working out

@KarsynElledge3, February, 2016
Elon [Musk] is inseparable from Tesla and the brand...If he were to leave or take a lesser role, I think that it would be devastating for shareholders. What needs to happen is just a come-to-Jesus moment for Elon.
Romit Shah quoted by Keith Naughton, Bloomberg, September, 2018
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Who uses come to Jesus?

For all its secular applications, come to Jesus keeps its religious currency, urging lost or struggling souls to find their way in Jesus Christ.

Outside Christianity, come to Jesus sees wide use in secular contexts. It can used in a lighthearted way to call out one’s personal behavior or some everyday annoyance.

It can be used in a more serious way for situations at home and work that need to change.

From politics to business, come to Jesus is a common cry for folks to do better.  

More generally, come to Jesus can be used as a synonym for a realization or epiphany, big or small.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of come to Jesus like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of come to Jesus that will help our users expand their word mastery.