Friday, November 23, 2012

“It’s a God Thing”

With the current mainstreaming of theology, we have an increasing amount of people claiming that God is at work, or “It’s a God thing.” They talk about “God moments” or “God being at work.”

In one sense, they are certainly right. The God of the universe is “in the heavens, doing whatever he pleases.” What some often fail to note is that that includes both the good stuff and the bad stuff. He is always at work; he never sleeps. (And remember, a lot of your “good stuff” which is a “blessing from God” is hurtful and painful to someone else.) It is the basic doctrine of God’s sovereignty.

But in another sense, they have no idea what they are talking about. One of the unique things about Christianity is that through the Bible God has equipped us with everything necessary for life and godliness.

But part of that equipment does not include the right to attach God’s name to whatever we think is in our best interest, or whatever turns out the way we want it to.

And herein is where deep problems come in a hurry.

You see, there’s a commandment, usually designated as the Third Commandment, which says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

Most people who grew up in in legalistic type culture view this command in a George Carlin type way, as in the seven words you can’t say on TV. And so they grew up with a list of “vain” words.

They included the obvious ones, alongside the sanitized ones like gosh, and golly (and who can ever hear that with seeing Gomer Pyle), and the like. (Of course, most people who grew up in a legalistic culture don’t know who George Carlin is.)

Now that they have broken free of such sinful legalism, it is not uncommon to see them let loose with a few words here and there. It always makes me roll my eyes and laugh because it’s like being in junior high again. But I digress.

One of the great failures of the legalistic type culture is just how poorly it taught people the real meaning of Scriptures.

You see, people grew up thinking the third commandment was about words you couldn’t say.

What so many have failed to understand is that the third commandment is not about a list of words. It is about the trivial use of God’s name. It is about illegitimate name dropping. It is about using God’s name for something he wouldn’t is it for.

Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where George is buying a new pair of glasses? (Shame on you if you do. Someone only told me about it, if you know what I mean.)

Kramer sends George to a particular shop and tells him to “mention my name.” Of course George does it, in a sly way (which is kind of funny in itself, or so I am told). But the shop owner has no idea who Kramer is. The name means nothing to him.

Every parent has experienced something like this, but for a different reason. My son comes to me wanting to do something, and he says, “Momma said I could.” Now, I can usually tell whether or not he is using momma’s name in vain because I know momma well enough to know what she thinks he should or should not do. But he thinks attaching momma’s name to it is a permission slip, a hall pass, a get out of jail free card.

Here’s the warning: When you claim something is a “God moment,” you better make sure you know what you are talking about. Because the Lord will not hold you guiltless for such trivial use of his name to further your own agenda.

Playing the God card is among the worst forms of spiritual abuse because it sends the message that everyone who doesn’t agree with you doesn’t know God.

The mere fact that your desired outcome happens does not mean that it is a “God moment.” And your claiming such may make you a blasphemer.

And God will not hold you guiltless, no matter how noble you think your cause is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen.... I hear so many people using God's name in vain it is frighting. Others use many terms that in one way or the other incorporate a form of God's name. This seems to be an epidemic these days. 5One man termed it Christian cursing. One must be vary careful to avoid this.