At first I was surprised, but then I started feeling critical. What is so horrible in the ice cream section that merits the use of Jesus’ name? I sarcastically thought perhaps I could approach her and say, “He’s my friend—would you like me to tell Him something?” Another bolder person might have told her that using Jesus’ or God’s name was “triggering.” Instead I chose to wheel past her.
As I checked out my groceries, I started to think a bit more graciously. Perhaps I should have asked the woman if she needed some help, or attempted to start a conversation. The old counselor in me suggested, “I sense you are frustrated, would you mind sharing what has upset you?” Of course I might have been told off at that point. I didn’t know that woman’s situation—she may have been requested for a certain product by an abusive husband waiting at home. She may have wished to give an ailing parent their favorite ice cream, now unavailable. Today may have been her “last straw.”
The Sacred Names of God
However, this is me: I am saddened by the flippant and cheap use of the sacred names of God. That’s the God of the Old Testament who asked us not to misuse his name in the 10 Commandments. Then Jesus Christ identified Himself as the Word, and in John 1:1-5; 14, the Word was God in the beginning. This Son of God named for trivial annoyances in the same category as curse words. That still makes me cringe inside. I am not of the same mind as those whose religion denies them the privilege of uttering God’s name at all. Yet even the names of famous prophets or the use of “Namaste” during yoga seems to be reserved with more respect.
What do we make of a society where there is little sense of the sacred name? Is it a reflection of our power over a god that we disdain or feel abandoned by Him? Or the triumph of owing to no gods at all? Or just plain limited vocabulary?
Last year my then three-year-old grandson suddenly tried out using God’s name as an exclamation, much to my shock. Our family is not known for saying that out loud for emphasis. I assumed that another child at daycare had introduced him to the habit. The experiment quickly subsided or his parent’s gave him some instruction in use of God’s name.
Misuse of Names
So much is attached to a name. I surely wouldn’t want my name used as a curse. Human beings get very incensed when their own names are misused—people go to court over disputes involving the claim by name for copyright, patent, intellectual property, or progeny! Perhaps we Christians have failed to impress upon the world that the right use of Jesus’ name is a powerful thing— and that attaching the word “Christian” to yourself is a tremendous gift.
Some people believe that when we call on the name of Jesus Christ we are calling on His reputation, character and power. May more of us impress upon this world the good news: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Even in the grocery store.
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
- Read Exodus 20: 7; Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12, and respond.
- How do you understand the power inherent in Jesus’ name?
Karen Spruill writes from Florida.
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