The Name of God
What would Jesus do? This common & ever popular question gets bantered around among Christians with little actual awareness of what Jesus was actually like. When we see blatant sin among supposed Christians, are we to respond with meekness and love? Is that what Jesus did? When He encountered people who considered themselves righteous profaning His Father's house with a selfish pursuit of profit rather than worship, what did Jesus do? (John 2:12-17) When He encountered people who considered themselves righteous behaving unrighteously, how did Jesus speak to them--certainly not with meekness and encouraging words! (Matthew 23:1-36) Jesus gave full vent to His righteous anger in word and deed, specifically when it came to those who professed to know His Father and yet profaned the great Name of God by their words and actions. Are we as "little Christs" (Christians) supposed to mirror Jesus even in this? Honestly, I don't know, but my heart pounds in my chest with anger over the most recent incident of someone in my sphere who professes to be a Christian and yet who blatantly abuses my Savior's great name with blasphemous actions. This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of recent examples of such incidents. The supposed "church" is full of people claiming the name of Christ and yet living in blatant sin.
My Savior died for me. No, that so terribly understates what Jesus did for sinners so that we might be saved from the terrifying wrath of Almighty God. Does, "Jesus suffered immeasurably," do better justice at expressing His work at the cross? I have suffered much physical pain in my life, even to the point of my entire body trembling uncontrollably from that pain. I have also suffered agony of spirit many times. But, I have never sweat drops of blood as Jesus did because of a level of inward agony for what was yet to come. The degree of His physical, emotional, mental and spiritual agony at the cross far surpasses anything you or I can comprehend. Why did he endure it? Why, I ask, did He endure such horrific suffering? Because of me! Because of you! I am overcome with sobbing as I write this-- The love with which my Savior purchased me demands nothing less than complete devotion. I was truly bought at an unestimateable price, therefore; as one redeemed, I am not my own. I must honor Him with my body (1 Corinthians 6:20), and so must you, if you are indeed the LORD's.
I'm aware how politically incorrect and intolerant it is to say to those who profess Christianity that you are walking in sin--repent! Hell-fire and damnation preaching went out the window long ago and was replaced by feel-good mumbo jumbo, and "be all that you can be" for Christ nonsense that allows Christians to continue in sin and bring dishonor to the Lord who gave His all for them. We have freedom in Christ. This is true. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" And here, I can picture the apostle Paul's horror as he responds; "By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2)
I am certainly far from perfect. To my great shame, I have chosen to participate and walk in sin many times in my Christian life. Sin is a snare and blinding. When God, in His great mercy and patience, has shined His light on my sin and granted me repentance, I have grieved over that sin. Flippancy and insincere apologies have no place in the truly repentant heart, as the weight of the knowledge of the tremendous cost paid for that sin threatens to overwhelm. Thankfully, after such confession and repentance the slate is wiped clean before God and the righteousness of Christ covers me. The results of such sin are not, however, so easily wiped clean. The world doesn't so easily forgive and forget.
What does it mean to take the LORD's name in vain? This third commandment found in Deuteronomy 5:11 says, "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." Call it what you will, but the last part of that verse is a threatening promise from the Lord of the Universe, who should be feared, for any who abuse His name. What does this commandment actually mean and why is it such a big deal to God? To answer that, we must understand what is meant by "name." God's name is not merely a string of letters put together to call Him by. It is Him and all that He represents--God's character and His reputation.
Many years ago as a teenager I went on an evangelistic missions trip to Poland. There was a girl on our team who had a name that unfortunately sounded like an amusing thing to say in place of a curse word when angry. So, jokingly others began to quickly say, "Thannet Baggot" every time they got mad. This was certainly a disrespectful misuse of her name and wrong in and of itself. But, what if team members also began saying to the Polish people, Thannet Baggot sent me to you and then proceeded to steal, lie, cheat and abuse them? Would the latter not be a far more horrible misuse of her name?
If we are "little Christs," then whatever we do represents God--a loving, merciful, and holy God. When God's people cheat on their taxes, inflate their resume to get a job, have an affair, abuse their children, look at pornography, get drunk, treat people without love, curse, lie to get out of trouble, etc., they horribly misuse the name of God to a lost world. Our actions, attached to a claim to Christianity, directly represent the Name of God. It has nothing to do with legalism. It has everything to do with bringing shame upon the perfect name (character and reputation) of the God who gave everything out of love for us. This is shameful, dear brothers and sisters. Repent! "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7). He will hold you accountable.
Now it's your turn. Have I been too harsh? What do you think God's response is when His children misuse His name to a dying world? Why do you think Christians today are so blind to their sin and failing to repent? Let me hear from you.