RELIGION COLUMN: The Lord has given us his name

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By Jake McCall

When I was a child, my dad caught me in the brainless act of using the expensive baseball bat he bought for me to hit rocks from our gravel driveway. He gave me one warning and said he better not ever catch me using that baseball bat for anything other than hitting baseballs. So at that point I had two options that would have allowed me to be obedient to my dad’s command: I could have put the baseball bat away and never used it again, or I could have stopped using it in vain and started effectually using it to hit baseballs. Now, if I had put the bat away and never used it again, I may not have literally broken the rule, but I would not have really benefited from my dad’s instruction, nor would the option of ignoring the gift that he had given me been pleasing to my dad.

In a well-known passage in Exodus 20:7, we are told that one of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

Most often, we take that to mean we are to be very careful with the name of the Lord in order to keep from breaking this commandment, and when we hear others slander God’s name, we quickly tie it to the breaking of the third commandment. I agree that it is deplorable when people slander the name of God, but the real tragedy is when God’s children don’t recognize the power in Jesus’ name or simply refuse to use his name at all. Just as my dad never wanted me to respond to his command by storing my bat away, God’s main intent for this command is not for us to be careful with his name; instead, God has given us his name so that we may use it effectually and often by calling upon him. When we miss this, we fail to understand the power behind this commandment and the power of the name of the Lord.

Throughout scripture we are told that the Lord’s name has been given to his people and it is powerful. This is not a magical or impersonal force, but a way to affirm that we know the God of the universe by name and believe in his power and love. As you call upon the Lord, Jehovah; the Christ, Jesus; the Holy Spirit, expect salvation (Acts 4:12), forgiveness (Acts 22:16), authority (Luke 10:17), power (Acts 1:8), healing (Acts 3:6), opposition (Acts 4:18), suffering (Acts 9:16), and life (John 20:31). Fulfill the third commandment often by calling upon him over and over again.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church.