In Vain: The Verbal Assault on God

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“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7 NRS).




(Image courtesy of jmthebest.com)

I bet I don’t even have to translate the above image for you.  We see it and hear it all the time.  It’s a catch phrase, an idiom since the vast majority of people who say it are not speaking to God when they utter it.  I cringe every time I hear someone say “Oh my God!”  They’re not speaking the name of God; they’re profaning it.  We’re not speaking the name of God in prayer.  We’re not invoking the sacred name of our Lord intentionally.  It is done is casually, without regard for the nature of the one whom we name.  It says a lot about the theology of the one who utters “OMG.”  Do you respect a God who’s name you throw around like the word “hey?”  Do you understand the implications of calling God’s name, and what happens to those who do so without thought of the consequences?

In scripture, God’s people were so afraid of misusing God’s name that they didn’t even say it.  Even today, there are Jews who will not even write “God” for risk of misusing it and angering God.  Instead, they write a respectful “G-d.”  I’m not saying we have to go that far.  I probably say “God” a dozen times a day, even more if you include other versions of the divine names, like “Lord, “Jesus Christ, “Holy Spirit,” etc.  But, I’m a Christian, and my God’s name is on my lips a lot, even when I’m not praying.  Have you ever payed attention to who is saying “OMG?”  I love watching television and seeing proclaimed Atheists saying it.  Why should they care?  There’s nothing more revolting to me than degrading another person’s faith.  I don’t believe in making fun of the Hindu pantheon.  I don’t join in the disgusting cartoon portrayals of Muhammad.  It is partially because I resent the way many people portray Jesus.  You don’t have to believe in him.  That’s your choice, but don’t disrespect him and we who follow him.  Just walk away.  So now, when I hear people saying, “OMG,” I politely ask them if they would mind not being vulgar with my God’s name.  It’s not right by God, and it’s not right by me or the millions upon millions of other Christians.  It takes some courage to confront the issue, but scripture calls us to account, not just for our misuse of God’s name.  We are to hold others accountable.  It’s a sad thing to realize how many of those who run around throwing “OMG” out in their casual conversations are the very same people populating pews on Sunday morning and would call themselves Christians.  If we never stand up for anything else, can we at least defend God’s name?

Prayer:
Almighty God,
Lord of All,
Giver of Life,
Maker and Creator,
Your names are many, but your nature is one.
It is far too easy to disrespect you with our words.
Let us be mindful of the ways we call upon you.
You may not instantly strike us down,
But when we profane your mighty name,
We risk further damaging our relationship with you.
May we use our words and the calling of your name,
To bring about peace and love.
May we honor your name continuously.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we pray.
Amen.

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