Monday, July 14, 2008

Using and Misusing the Name

It is about more than ugly, angry, hateful language. That's bad enough. One of the many things I like about the CEV* is its translation of Commandment #3: Do not misuse my name." (Exodus 20: 7) While taking the name Christian, #3 is also about the way we use the name of God, especially the ways we "bear false witness," or misrepresent God, Jesus, and Christian faith by our actions and our attitudes.

It is here that I often turn to I Peter 4:17 and the sense that God's judgment begins with God's own people, with those who claim God's name. I find that especially helpful when the question about who's in and who's out are inevitably raised (usually by those who think they are inside).

So claiming the name is tied to covenant keeping, and responsibility. Otherwise, we tend to be very flippant with God's name, using it to bless actions both individual and corporate that may be in disharmony with our words.

*The CEV (1995) usually keeps me from misusing the Bible, which is why I like it. For example, in John's Gospel, "Jewish leaders" is used where most other translations use "the Jews." (John 20:19) To me, The CEV's translation seems to make more sense when reading the New Testament narrative.

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