I've been noticing a trend lately. By "lately" I mean for the last few years; and by "noticing" I mean it's been thrown into my face a thousand times, and into my children's faces, and I'm tired of it. It started a few years ago when I was running (slowly jogging) my first half marathon, and there it was around mile nine...in my face and looming above me....an enormous advertising banner of a local business, set up for thousands of runners and cheering crowds to see...with the giant letters O.M.G. drawing attention to this business's latest sales pitch. That was the first time I saw this trend, and I was shocked. How could they use God's name as a sales pitch?!
Honestly I never thought it would catch wind. I thought it would be over as quickly as "talk to the hand" or "jinx" or any other silly trite phrase.
But no. The trend somehow took off and now these three letters are in my face every time I scroll my Facebook news feed, every time I look through greeting cards, every time I shop for kids' clothing and see it printed across T-shirts, every time I look for birthday gifts in the toy or art sections of any given store...it's printed on packaging of toys, backpacks, lunch boxes, create-your-own art projects, you name it. It shows up in commercials and printed advertisements. It's rampant.
And it's like a slap in the face every time. But, the biggest slap in the face comes when these three letters show up typed from the hands of friends that I know are Christ followers...friends that I know love God. When these friends type or write or say these three letters, it stings badly. Because it's God's name, friends. Our God. My God. Your God. The God we love, and more importantly, the God who loves us, created us, and gave up His life for us. It's His name. And it's to be honored. And every time we throw around these three letters as if they mean nothing, we are reducing His awesome, powerful name to trite, juvenile, social media lingo. And friends, this should not be.
Some of you may be thinking that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill. But I'm not. God's name is a big deal. He makes that utterly clear throughout the entire Bible. One such place, perhaps the most clear, is when He gives Moses the Ten Commandments. The third commandment (depending how you count) is "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." (Exodus 20:15.) Ummm...sounds pretty serious, right?
So, I think I'm safe in saying that God is the one who decided this is a big deal, not me. God's name is holy. Jesus teaches us that God's name is also personal, and that we can call Him "Abba" (Daddy) when we pray to him. But God's name being personal and loving doesn't make it less holy. His name is to be held above all other names. It's not to be reduced to silly social media lingo like LOL or JSYK.
For those who use this 3-letter acronym under the explanation that the "G" stands for "Gosh" or "Goodness," while I get your intentions, that just doesn't work. It means what it means, friends. And although you have innocent intentions, to everyone else who sees what you've written, the G communicates that which the phrase means...God's name, taken out of context ("in vain") and used most often as a trivial expression of surprise, disgust, dismay, or even happiness. So even if you say that you mean one thing, what you communicate is not what you mean. And what we communicate is what matters here. How are we communicating God's name? As a name to be honored, or as a trite phrase to be trivialized?
A common concern amongst adults today is teaching children and teens to respect their elders. I would agree that respect for elders and positions of authority is a discipline that has been largely lost and needs to be retaught and rebuilt. Yet, how can we possibly teach children to respect humans in authority when the adults in their lives don't even respect God's name?
And because of the rampant use of this expression by adults, so many children think his name is nothing more than social media lingo when really His name is our saving grace.
When our children's friends are in our home, which is nearly every day, they quickly learn that we have a household rule of not taking God's name in vain. We aren't harsh about it...but we are firm about it. Whenever that phrase is said here by a friend, we simply take a minute to explain that God's name is so awesome and His love is so awesome that we only use His name when we are actually talking to or about Him, and not as a random expression.
And you know what? Kids respond with enthusiastic interest...and willingly stop using that phrase in our house. Why? Because when we teach our children to honor God's name, it teaches them that we are part of something way bigger than ourselves. Something is going on here on this planet and beyond this planet that is bigger than you and I. There is a God above us and among us and even within us who is awesome and powerful, and His name is awesome and powerful too. It's by his name that we are saved. (Acts 4:12) That's huge! That's exciting! And it resonates with their souls. God's name is written on our hearts, and kids totally get it when we just take a minute to explain it.
So friends, let's build a culture of honoring God's name. Let's elevate God's name back to the place of honor it deserves.
His name is love, friends. It's by His name that you are loved. If you don't know much about God's name and how His name relates to you, here are just a few examples from the Bible:
Throughout the ages His name has been powerful and awesome and mighty and holy and at the same time personal and loving.
His name is a big deal...let's love it and exalt it and worship it, but let's not let it be social media lingo.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.