I don't recall the exact passage he read (something similar to Exodus 20:1-6, Zechariah 13:2, Ezekiel 20:1-20 or some such I'm sure), but he then encouraged them to get rid of the statue and not consider the flippant possession of an idol a small thing. They said okay and went to bed, but all that night the woman was troubled by the passage he'd shared and the unsolicited advice. The next morning the woman grabbed the idol and threw it away in the garage trash. As she walked into the house, the phone rang with someone wanting to purchase the home. Coincidence, or God's sovereignty meeting man's obedience?
Maybe without knowing it, this man faithfully carried out the desire of the Lord to confront people's sins (Isaiah 58), not in a self-righteous way but in faithful obedience that calls others to follow God in obedience as well. Life can throw us curve balls, and often God allows these difficult times to test us, to see if we will be faithful to Him. Sometimes it's life. But many of us experience a hindrance in our lives because we are treating sin lightly also, even coming to God as we would a non-judgmental best friend (who agrees with us even when our sinful thoughts, words, or deeds would better be served by a needed rebuke). God is clear about His call for faithfulness and the rejection of false gods. There is much to consider here, and we would do well to think about the consequences of our actions toward God, especially as followers of Jesus.
What I've experienced, with increasing regularity, is followers of Jesus who have adopted this cultural use of God's name in vain–it's the cultural norm. Especially with people of younger generations, these comments almost seem to be phrases in their own right and not individual words with individual meanings of their own. And in light of the ease, how in the world can we stand before the cultural tsunami of text-speak?!
Christian ministry "Got Questions?" looks into the deeper meaning of using the Lord's name in vain:
Those who name the name of Christ, who pray in His name, and who take His name as part of their identity, but who deliberately and continually disobey His commands, are taking His name in vain. Jesus Christ has been given the name above all names, at which every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:9-10), and when we take the name “Christian” upon ourselves, we must do so with an understanding of all that signifies. If we profess to be Christians, but act, think, and speak in a worldly or profane manner, we take His name in vain. When we misrepresent Christ, either intentionally or through ignorance of the Christian faith as proclaimed in Scripture, we take the Lord’s name in vain. When we say we love Him, but do not do what He commands (Luke 6:46), we take His name in vain and are in danger of hearing Him say to us, “I never knew you. Away from me” in the day of judgment (Matthew 7:21-23).
Maybe the reason people are speaking in such a cavalier way about the God who gave them life is because leaders in the church have failed to teach them. Maybe they are quick to associate the name of God or Jesus with their sinfulness because we have lulled them to spiritual sleep by saying, "well, we are all sinners," and so given people excuses to avoid Christ's call to holiness. Maybe we have failed to explain the importance of honoring God, or even implied that the love of God moves Him to smirk at us when we dishonor Him. We talk about the love of God without explaining how that great love of God is the very quality that drove Jesus to the cross to express that great love. Do we need to better explain WHY Jesus had to die? Because I'm not convinced that many Christians today have picked up on the connection between God's holiness, man's sinfulness, and that torture device of the Roman cross. Not really. If we had, would we be so "Eh" about our own sin?
Isaiah 1:13-20 tells us that God ignores our prayers when we do wrong, when we weary Him by treating our sins against Him lightly. That's actually what the entire book of Judges in the Bible is about! Just like in the example of the idol above, I share this because I deeply care about all of you. I hate to think that any of us are missing out on vital relationship with God because our sins are a barrier (Isaiah 59:1-3). May we no longer shirk our responsibility to teach every disciple to obey all Christ commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20). If people experience the separation from God that comes from disobedience, let it not be from ignorance or because we were silent when we should have spoken the truth in love.
What do you think about using the name of God/Jesus when you're not referring to them specifically, as a person? What about claiming your faith even as you choose to walk apart from the will of God? Does this bother you or not? Why? Leave a comment below!