as seen in

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What God says about the “words” I’m not supposed to use.

For about a year now, I’ve had this strange ritual.

It’s as much a part of waking up as making coffee while I rinse my mouth with coconut oil. I can’t do it at the same time I swish around the coconut oil because it requires talking. In the morning. Out loud. When my household is still asleep. I told you it was strange.

And ancient.

I recite the 10 commandments.

Not because I’m Charlton Heston. Not because I’m legalistic and want to smite someone.

I do it because it’s the quickest way I know to set my priorities in order. I tack on Mark 12:30–31, too, because Jesus said these were the most important (and I figure it doesn’t hurt to say the top two twice).

I started this because of something my Bible teacher said once in passing, “People could transform their lives if they’d just keep the first and last commandments consistently.”

I’ve said the 10 Commandments most every day for 18 months. I’ve changed them to “I” statements and use them as a prayer of personal promises. Things I’m trying my best to do to honor God. Things I’m asking forgiveness for when I fail.

Something has happened over time.

More and more, and on deepening levels, I get it. The Ten Commandments make sense to me. They show up in the middle of my day and remind me what choices to make. They set things in order. They tell me Who I am and Whose I am.

I could write a series of stories about how these ancient 10 principals show up and shape my modern life. But I’ll leave that for another time.

I want to share more about #3, today.

The amy translation sounds like this,

Lord, I shall not take your beautiful Name in vain.

That’s it. Simple, right?

For the longest time, I thought that commandment meant, “Don’t say god-dam.”

Okay. Fine. Not a problem for me. I hate that word. I prefer the four letter flavors.

But as I said the third commandment day in and day out, I began to wonder, “Why would God tell Moses to go to all the trouble to chisel that silly one in stone?”  Saying “g.d.” doesn’t exactly rank up there with idol worshipping, murder, adultery and theft does it?

It was only when I began writing honestly and from my heart on a bigger stage, that I began to realize what the 3rd commandment was really pointing to.

But before I unwrap that, let me tell you a little secret.

This may or may not surprise you, but I get pushback and criticism from Christians.

Not from Atheist or Hindus or Jews or Buddhists (they are kind and considerate or quiet). But I get pushback from my own people. Criticism and Bible verses correcting me and confirming God’s disappointment in me.

But I care deeply about my relationship with God and pour into it perpetually. As does God. So to have our private and personal relationship called into to question really hurts.

There is something about putting the word, “Jesus” in a sentence that brings out the judgment. It’s so painful that I’ve seriously considered abandoning spiritual writing altogether.

But just as I was about to quit, I realized what God is really saying with #3.

The non-amy version goes like this,

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.

As a person of God,

I am not to use God’s name in an empty way.

Or in any way that is not totally aligned with Love.

I am not to use God’s name to control, condemn, or criticize.

I am not to use God’s name to misrepresent or manipulate things my way.

I am not to use God’s name to attack, threaten, or frighten others.

I am not to use God’s name to exclude even one.

If I do, I have officially broken the 3rd commandment. It’s okay of course. I only need to turn to God, say I’m sorry, receive God’s forgiveness, forgive myself and keep going. God is so good like that.

But what I don’t need to do is quit.

Rather I need to write about experiences like this to help Christians understand we serve a God of Love and unity, not a god of fear and division.

I take full responsibility for breaking the 3rd commandment.

Not for saying “g.d.,” but…

For every time I used God’s name to prove a point.

For every time I put “Jesus” in a sentence that Jesus would never put Himself in.

For every time I used God’s name to appear “holier than thou” and make someone feel less because of it.

For every time I used scripture to “fix” something, instead of doing the real work of showing up and walking out hard times with a fellow human.

You probably don’t use God’s name in vain.

But I certainly have.

And I’ve had God’s name used in vain on me too. It’s the worst.

One of the greatest gifts Christians can give in service to God?

Uphold the 3rd commandment. Use God’s name to heal (instead of hurt) one another and the world.





Categorized in: