Yesterday I suggested that as Christians it behooves us to keep God’s Name holy, and cited the specific example of only using God’s Name in certain appropriate circumstances. The expression, “O God!” (or “O god!”) has come to replace, in many quarters, the old expression, “O brother!” Used for the same purpose. Something is frustrating; something is annoyingly predictable, or repetitive; something strikes the speaker as funny, or odd; out comes the expression.
What happens to us, when we use God’s name vainly – inappropriate circumstances? It’s not that such an expression couldn’t be used appropriately: when destruction or disaster are overwhelming, when life is too much, when the speaker is moved to rely on God’s strength, or to turn to Him in distress… it fits. But in common usage (and “common” is maybe a key word in this… should God’s Name, the name of the holy One who created all and sent His Son to redeem it, and sends His Spirit to sanctify us – should God’s name be treated as a “common” thing?), in common usage the speaker is not thinking of God, not calling out to God, not relying on God for the strength to stand against whatever has hit. Which is what makes it a vain use of God’s Name.
What is the result, when we give ourselves permission to stop revering God’s Name? In our world, the heart both governs what comes from the mouth and is governed by it – there’s a trade-off going on all the time between the two. When we stop revering God’s Name in our speech, we eventually stop revering God in our hearts. When we stop revering God in our hearts, we stop seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness in our lives. Obedience goes out the window; discipleship goes out the window.
Not to blow things out of proportion. There are a million little steps in between starting to misuse God’s Name and complete and utter faithlessness. But when the gateway to faithlessness is exposed, who will continue to head that direction? Pray for our world.