What's in a Name?

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!’ Well, we all know that’s the most ridiculous, absolutely ludicrous piece of nonsense, don’t we? Of course words can hurt us! We usually feel pretty terrible when someone speaks ill of us, or says something about us that is hurtful or untrue.
In the same way, we really don’t like it when people say things that might give others the wrong impression about us, or give us a bad name. Well, in our current series of talks about the ten commandments, this Sunday I’ll be talking about the third of those commandments, which 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.”
Now what how do WE use the name of God? Well, lots of people use the name of God and Jesus almost as swear words. No need for me to elaborate – we all know that much is true. I sometimes wince when I hear that – and I wince even more when I think, you know what? I’ve done that too.
If you would describe yourself as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, maybe like me you’d say you rarely if ever do that and that you know when you’ve done it, you say sorry for it and you really do wince when you hear other people do it.
But d’you know what, there’s another aspect to this that we – if we’re followers of Jesus – really need to think about. You may say you don’t misuse the name of the Lord your God. Well, not much anyway. But the rules are a little different for Christians than for other people and that’s because taking the Lord’s name in vain is not only about what we directly speak of in regard to God. It’s not just about using God’s name as a swear word.
If we call ourselves Christians, we are quite literally taking the name of the Lord our God. Christians. Christ-ians. Followers of Jesus. So my very tough question is this. What are we doing with it?
As Christians, we’re supposed to be a royal priesthood, a people set apart to glorify the name of God. We’re His representatives, His ambassadors, His priests. People have expectations, high expectations of a priest. We as Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. To be disciples and to make disciples. Reaching people… making disciples is our mission. Well, let’s just be clear that we must first be disciples.
 I want you to reflect this week about the character and the person and the role of a priest of God. And to accept, if you call yourself a Christian, that you are one. We need God’s help. We need to confess our shortcomings, our failures, our taking of the Lord’s name in vain when we break any of these Commandments – in our actions, our words… and in our private thought life. We need to want and to ask forgiveness – and we need to receive it, for it is freely given! That’s grace. That’s the love of God. That’s the sort of grace and love we are called to represent in the world at large.
The world at large that looks at the commandments and thinks that they are obsolete. A desperately hurting, broken world, that needs to see and to know and to experience the love and the graced of God. A world that needs to hear from us, and see demonstrated consistently in us, that the ten commandments are not obsolete. But they are absolute.
Perhaps you will join me in this prayer -
Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – forgive us for when we take your name and misuse it, or misrepresent it. In our actions, our words and our thoughts… please guide us and correct us, so that we truly represent You and Your holy name with honour and truth. For we ask this in your name. Amen.
May God’s blessing be upon you.

Simon Lace, 14/06/2021