“Oh my Go—”
We understand the importance of ending that statement with “—sh.” Otherwise, we’re speaking the Lord’s name in vain. Then again, some claim “gosh” takes the Lord’s name in vain, too.
The third commandment says, “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name” (Exodus 20:7 NLT).
I’m not here to argue the criteria for taking the Lord’s name in vain. Instead, I want to provide a different perspective on how we misuse the name of God.
We can misuse God’s name without saying anything. Sometimes, it comes back to the way we act. “Actions speak louder than words,” right?
If we believe in Jesus, we likely refer to ourselves as “Christians.” The Bible says, “…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26 KJV).
I love the word “disciple.” It means “follower” and “student.” Therefore, if we refer to ourselves as “Christians,” our character should reflect Jesus Christ. After all, we’re bearing His name.
If we act contrary to the character of Christ—while claiming to be a Christian—we’re misusing God’s name. A Christian is someone who bears the name of Christ. How can we refer to ourselves as Christians when we intentionally misrepresent Jesus?
Each state sends a certain number of representatives to Washington, D.C., every two years. In this way, states are equally represented on a national level.
What if West Virginia’s representative decides to represent Oregon instead? Imagine an Ohio representative ignoring his or her own state.
In the same way, Christians are representatives of Jesus Christ.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17 NLT).
Often times, however, our actions represent things contrary to the character of Christ.
If West Virginia’s representative refuses to represent the people of West Virginia, it makes the entire state look bad. This often occurs within the Church. Those who consistently misuse God’s name make the Church appear irrelevant, ignorant, and hypocritical. As a result, people never enter church doors. Who wants to visit a state—a church—that’s consistently misrepresented?
Please understand where I’m coming from. Nobody is perfect. We’re all on a journey, becoming more like Jesus each and every day. From this point of view, the world is wrong to judge the actions of Christians so harshly. Sometimes, such judgements are mere excuses to never attend a church service.
Additionally, my goal is never to condemn anyone. Throughout this column, I use the word “we” often. Why? Because I struggle with my own actions, too.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).
My prayer is that, as Christians, we develop a reckless desire to represent the character of Christ. If the Church is to rise in this evil world, people must live the Gospel. Jesus needs His representatives—His disciples—more than ever.
I want to end with a couple of verses from James. In the first verse, James mentions the sin of prejudice to early Christians. However, in the next, he refers to the title of this column. Check it out:
“But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?” (James 2:6-7 NLT).
What an honor it is to be a Christian—a representative of Jesus. A messenger of the Good News. A Child of God. Called. Chosen. And Equipped.
Bear His name!
Isaiah Pauley is a senior at Wahama High School. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.