Reformation 2017: Refocus, Reflect, Renew

Every month this year (the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation), we will consider one of the 10 commandments as explained by Martin Luther in his Small Catechism, written for parents to help teach the faith to their children.
Martin Luther and the Second Commandment:
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
What does this mean? Martin Luther says “”We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie or deceive using God’s name, but instead that we use that very name in every time of need to call on God with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. ” From Luther’s Small Catechism

What’s in a name? We all have names. We like our name to be used in positive, respectful ways, not in sneering or attacking, right? Well,the same goes for God with God’s name. Of course we use many names to call on God – Dear God, Lord, Our Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, and many others. God wants us to use God’s name early and often to call on him in prayer and thanksgiving, to use God’s name to get God’s attention, so to speak. To have an ongoing relationship with God throughout our day.

But our culture tends to use God’s name in vain so often that it tends to simply become not a connection with God, but merely an exclamation point, stuffed between words to give them some emphasis, but it doesn’t mean anything -“OMG!” or “Good God!” This makes God’s name meaningless to us.

Damning someone in God’s name, cursing, is another use of God’s name, but it assumes that God is on our side whenever we want revenge, which is highly unlikely, since God has said “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord!”

Another way God’s name is taken for nothing is in propping up a lie – “Honest to God!” we say when we have honestly just told an untruth! Swearing on God’s name in court, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God”, and then giving false testimony is the same thing. Jesus tells us to not swear on God’s name at all – “Simply let your yes be yes, and your no be no, anything more than that comes from the devil! ”

The good news is that there is freedom in knowing and calling on God’s name – we are free to seek God whenever we need him, we can praise him for all he does for us, and we can turn our lives over to the care of God knowing we are in good hands. So yes, call on God’s name early and often!