Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Taking God's Name in Vain

There are times when I read Christian blogs and news stories and simply despair. I genuinely gasp in horror sometimes at the things said and done in the name of 'God'.

There is a readiness to speak the name of God over the words and actions of so many of us, willing to contend that the words I say, the actions I do are ordained and appointed by God.

Of course I am only too aware of the considerable and towering presence of people of faith throughout the world who care for the sick, provide for the poor and work tirelessly to relieve the suffering of so many. History is radiant with the colour of compassion.

So it is a paradox at times, for there is also no doubt that there are things said in 'Jesus name' that make my heart sink as well as sing.

Perhaps many of us have simply taken the name of God in vain.

We justify our views and our actions in the name of God, yet sometimes the god whom we reveal through our words and actions bears no resemblance to the God of orthodox faith, the One who is called Father, Son and Spirit. Indeed, we are little more than blasphemers.

Perhaps the increased silencing of the name of God within our schools and laws and public sphere is so that we might stop taking His name in vain. Maybe, just maybe, God withholds his very name from some generations in order that we might discover afresh His true character and nature. Perhaps the silencing of God in our communities is in fact the paradoxical divine action of God calling people to once again remember His real Name.

Perhaps we have become too confident in who we perceive God to be. Perhaps we have reduced God to nothing more than a super being, a powerful and bigger version of us who grants wishes and is some kind of self-help, life coach guru. Perhaps we have missed God like so many missed Him when He came and lived, died and was raised. Perhaps God is calling us through the silence to see who He really is. Perhaps.

Maybe we must not be so ready to use the Name of God as though we know what we are talking about. It should almost be embarrassing to use the Name of God such is the awe and mystery of the Divine Name. When we speak of Jesus we are speaking of God made flesh, God who died, God who was raised. When we speak of God we speak of the One who is Father, Son and Spirit, One God...you see, we do not know what we are saying.

Without doubt God is the One who says, 'I am with you' and 'I love you', the God who calls us friends. Yet we cannot begin to know what it means for God to be with us or to love us or to call us friends, for God is not 'with us' the way we share company, he does not love the way we love. We speak of things that are beyond our words.

So we speak of God according to the names He has given us, yet we tread carefully, for it is God of Whom we are speaking of.

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