1The phrase, "Oh my God" has become an acceptable response to just about any situation. You could be surprised, exasperated or just plain happy. You hear OMG on the radio, on the television, in movies, in schools and even in churches.
I believe that's wrong. I believe we need to stop using God's name in such flippant, vain ways.
Why do I believe this? Because there is power in a name.
Names represent people, places and things, but they also represent memories, events and feelings. If I said a name such as John F. Kennedy, many different things come into your mind and heart. It's not just a meaningless name -- it carries much more emotional significance. The name is a summary of who that person is.
Names in Scripture often are changed by God to signify different events or movements in a person's life. The name is changed because it is more than just a name -- it is a symbol of who they have become. Simon's name was changed to Peter. Saul to Paul. Abram to Abraham.
Can you imagine changing your name? Maybe you can, but most of us probably can't imagine living our lives under a different name. As a follower of Christ, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Your name will stay with you for all eternity.
If you still aren't convinced names are important, think about the name of our nation, or the name of someone's wife, mother, son or daughter. How many people will fight for the name of their family or their country? That's because the name represents who they are at a deeper level than just a few letters strung together. How many fights have been started because someone disrespects someone's mother?
Names are important; names are the very essence of who a person is.
Yet when it comes to God's names, we are careless and throw them around in empty, vain ways.
The name of Jesus is said to be the name by which we are saved. If you believe that, do you still believe it is appropriate to use Jesus' name when you're surprised or angry?
Exodus 20:7 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."
We need to understand and claim that verse as a verse of warning. We should not be throwing around God's name carelessly.
Another way we misuse God's name is by "swearing to God." Matthew 5:33-37 warns us not to swear by God's name or by the temple. Our yes should be yes and our no should be no.
I realize popular culture says it's OK to OMG. I believe Scripture has another viewpoint, one that's been lost or forgotten by many. Let's put away the vain uses of the Lord's name and protect and fight for the Name above every name.
If you want some practical ways to help curb your language, here are a few tips.
* Try a swear jar. Every time you use God's name in vain, put a quarter or a dollar in the jar.
* Put a rubber band around your wrist. Then every time you misspeak, snap yourself.
* Use alternate words. Goodness, gosh, by golly and holy guacamole are some good places to start. Use a thesaurus and be creative.
* Imagine your grandmother or a 5-year-old is with you at all times. Knowing the 5-year-old picks up on whatever words you say, what words would you choose?
* Find a friend. Don't try to go it alone; find a friend to help hold you accountable.
It's not going to be easy to develop a new habit of not using God's name carelessly, but it's worth the effort. We need to show God and his name the respect he deserves.
Kevin Daniels is pastor at Hays Christian Church.hayschristianchurch.org. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.