I admit that when I hear someone say the word God or Jesus Christ in a manner that is not honoring His name, I automatically cringe. I was taught the commandment Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain was not to be broken, and yet, I often find myself misusing the Lord’s name. Not in speech, but in deed — which seems to be a much worse offense for someone who is called to walk beneath the covering of that very Name she so flippantly disregards.
This commandment from Exodus 20:7 goes beyond using God’s name as a curse word. As Steve Furtick writes in his book (Un)qualified:
“. . . We are essentially taking His name in vain. Not because we don’t value Him or honor Him, but because we don’t realize how powerfully His name can permeate our present and transform our existence.”
With this thought in mind, I can’t help but wonder how often I dishonor the name of my Lord simply by neglecting to take it on with a blessing.
The Lord is my God, but do I really embrace the awesome power of that statement? Do I personalize the intimacy of Abba and daughter as a way of life, one which honors my namesake and my heritage as a member of the family of Christ? Do I treat this belonging as the incredible privilege it is, esteeming my adoptive birthright with a life that brings glory to my heavenly Father?
Or do I take His name in vain — nothing changed, nothing gained. Everything remaining essentially the same because I choose to live without applying faith to my new persona.
When I fail to realize and invite the power of His name to permeate my present and transform my existence, I’m taking the Lord’s name in vain. Whether by intent or default, I’m living without result or effect of this gracious mercy poured out on my behalf. In neglecting to honor His name, I’m refusing to live differently than I did when I was called by my old name and nature.
Life in Jesus should not be without effect. This is no wild goose chase I’ve embarked upon, but a life of infinite realness and goodness. With straightforward momentum leading me away from myself and into Calvary’s light — a light that shatters the grip of darkness and sin with amazing grace descending straight from heaven’s throne.
Christianity is not simply an accepted belief that there is a God who created the world and everything in it; it is the birthing of life and power in human soul.
It is not just realizing my need for a Savior named Jesus; it is accepting and implementing the power He extends me to be transformed into His image. An image that puts off my former way of living according to my own wayward desires, abandoning the practice of sinful habits that once ruled me. It is being born again into a new being.
I don’t want to be a Christian who lives to no avail, fruitlessly wandering and lost in worldviews that are not surrendered to Father’s truths. This new life in Jesus is just that: a new life. It is not an abortive mission given up at the first sign of challenge or temptation to continue a sinful lifestyle.
Taking His name means I am no longer orphaned to live this life all alone, but as one called and chosen by God Himself. Conspicuously grafted in with the ability of living as a new creation. Waking each day with a transformation of character, one that morphs more completely into Christ’s likeness with each decision I make to intentionally conform to my calling in the Beloved of the Lord.
May we live our lives as ones claimed by Abba to proclaim His name, no longer denying His identity in us. But rather, honoring His name and its power to enable us to live as ones made new — day by day and for forever.