Don’t take the LORD’S name in vain.  That was a biggie growing up.  It made the top ten in the bible.  In the places I traveled that meant primarilyimages one thing… don’t use God’s name in your swearing.

My circles took it even one step further (like all good Christians should) by adding restrictions to the phrases… Oh my gosh, Gosh dang it and that ever present dirty word, Golly.

Fast forward to today and I hear the words “Oh My God” every single day.  In print, texting, students, believers, those yet to believe, older, younger and yup, you guessed it; in church too.  Let me notice two things about this.

First, God is not His name.  It is who He is.  It is a title.  It is ascribed to many; of course good Christians make the distinction of a small “g” and a large “G” to separate the real from the false.  Now if we showed up at church and said “Holy I AM pastor, there is no parking left!” we might be on to something, but OMG is NOT taking the Lords name in vain.

Second, I am not sure it refers to swearing at all.  I think it has much more to do with faith and living.  Here is why.  The people hearing these words were people who had an identity as the people of God and the law was helping them assume that identity.  It was their distinguishing mark, kind of like superman’s cape, hulks green skin and Mickey’s ears that remind us of the happiest place on earth.  It was a statement of God, saying “you are my people; here is how I would like you to treat me and treat others.  This will be how people know and identify you as my people and identify me as the One True God.”

So God gives this command “don’t take the LORD’S name in vain” and a few thousand years later we have it mean… don’t say gosh, golly or OMG.  It makes me say, Really? Is that the best we can come up with after all these years?

I think God was saying; “I’m gonna give you my name, I will introduce myself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the God who led you out of Egypt, across the dessert… and when you carry my name, don’t do it in a way that makes my name mean nothing to all those other nations around you.”  Don’t carry the name of God in a way that makes it void of its meaning.

Today, that might look like a person who bears the name Christian…

  • but does not trust God enough to give.
  • but does not seek ways to love others.
  • but does not think enough of the name to let it shape their words and thoughts.
  • but never shares the one name by which all people will be measured, Christ Jesus.

This is “taking the LORD’S name in vain, much more so than gosh or golly.

Try this just for fun.  Instead of investing a bunch of time figuring out how many ways you might carry the name of God in a way that makes it useless or void, invest a few minutes finishing this sentence… Because I carry the name of Jesus…

The writer of the 23rd Psalm gives us this insight by reminding us that our GOOD SHEPHERD leads us to well worn paths of what is right FOR HIS NAMES SAKE.  Off… we go now.

~ by OFF we go now on September 21, 2010.

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