What's In a Name?

The third commandment is "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." (NRSV) Notice this isn't limited to avoiding naughty words. (Let's be clear, though-inappropriate words are not appropriate.)

Watch what you say, right? No misusing the Lord's name. That's easy. Gosh, I do that all the time. Golly, where's the challenge?

When you leave the church building, how do you use God's name? What's that? You say you don't use God's name?

Why don't you use God's name? Not just speak it, not just utter it under your breath when you're deeply entrenched in that home improvement project. Why don't you use God's name? (Use, not misuse.)

For example, when you interact with your neighbors and co-workers, what are you saying about God's name? Do you present God as someone who loves and truly cares about the people in your world? Or, do you present God as a power who is far too busy to worry about anyone else? Or far too angry to extend his love to anyone who is different, or not on the highway to heaven?

Through your life, you use the Lord's name. Remember when you mentioned what happened at a church meeting to your friend? You were representing God. You made a connection between yourself and God. What did you do after that conversation? Did you do something loving, or gossip about another friend?

We use God's name in word, deed, and sign. What signs of God's love emanate from you? "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8) Do you show love in everything you do?

God came to earth in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. This visit proved that God did not bombard people with clichés and empty slogans placed prominently on the bumpers of our luxury cars.

Through Jesus Christ, God came all the people, Jews and Gentiles alike, and walked the common path with the people in love. If we are truly honoring God's name in all we say and do and are, we do not remove ourselves from those cast aside by society. We do not shun the lepers of our world. We enter their woundedness with them, where we can demonstrate and live God's loving spirit, sharing it with them, whether or not they accept it.

We do not ever force conversion or our narrow views of Christianity on another. Conversion belongs to God. We do not do it. We plant the seeds, we live the love, and the rest is up to God. Insisting on our own way of worshiping God is using his name in vain. The Holy Spirit is not confined.

"So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:31, NRSV)

How have you lived God's name today? Where do you need to let go of control and let the Spirit do what it needs to do?