The other day I was listening to an old Bible Project podcast (if you don’t know about the Bible Project, be sure to check it out at thebibleproject.com). They were talking about God’s name and how it means more than just what we call God, but that in scripture, it often also takes on the characteristics of God, representing God, serving as God’s presence among the people of Israel. It was fascinating.
But as they talked, they referenced the Ten Commandments and what it means to “take God’s name in vain.” I’ve always understood that to mean that we should be respectful of God, not using God’s name flippantly or as a curse, and that’s not a bad principle – even the Israelites were careful not to speak God’s name aloud out of reverence. However, even more than that, the word for “take” in the Ten Commandments? It doesn’t mean “to use,” it means “to bear”, “to carry.”
When I first got married, I taught at a Catholic School, where our students wore uniforms. Wherever they went, before or after school or on field trips, they represented our school. The name of the school was written on our sweatshirts, embroidered on our polos. They carried our school’s name into their daily lives, and how they behaved mattered. It reflected not only on their reputation, but on the school as a whole.
In light of that, here’s what I’m meditating on today:
- What would it mean for me to take seriously this idea that I’m carrying around God’s name?
- What does it look like for me to carry God’s name into my daily conversations, my closest relationships?
- How am I carrying God’s name into the things I post on Instagram or Facebook?
- What does it mean to carry God’s name into the grocery store, or that last email I sent?
- In what ways am I carrying God’s name in vain, without success, lacking substance or worth?
May God grant me, and you, the grace to carry God’s name well.