I woke up this morning thinking about the recent indignant responses to the cartoons that have been in the news lately, for which a certain element would behead the makers of them. I recoil at that violence, their lust for blood. I respond viscerally to how extreme they are. Yet this morning I realized how shamefully at the other end of the spectrum we are in regard to our God. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Someone comes along and blasphemes our God and what do we do? Maybe we notice. If we notice, maybe we even wince. The most daring of us will say something, but that's rather much. If we go to a movie and God's name is taken in vain, well, that's a clean movie if that's all there is. It makes me think that the passion the Muslim men show is at least heated, and therefore thought-provoking. Do I have so much passion for the God who saved me? Do I even pray for, or correct, the person who blasphemes God's holy name?
I think this subject must have come up in my sleep because last night I was discussing movies with a friend of mine. We were nodding together to the idea that if you didn't go to movies where God's name was taken in vain, well, you probably wouldn't go to movies at all. Well, I rarely enough find movies that aren't too objectionable to go to, but I haven't cut them out because of that one crime.
Crime? Is it a crime to take God's name in vain? No one will go to jail; most people don't even know it's an offense. I remember finding out myself that there was anything wrong with proclaiming His name as a mere exclamation! On finding out it took a while to clean it from my vocabulary, it was so ingrained as a habit. Yet it's listed right there in the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:7: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." We know, because God has commanded it and stressed that He will not leave him unpunished, that it is indeed a crime severe enough to send a person to hell for all eternity. That's got to be seen as severe in God's eyes. A severe crime and all we do is shrug. I can't be denied my movies, God wouldn't want that...would He? It goes right in line with that truth (where is it in the Bible anyway, it's got to be in there somewhere...) that God wants us all to be happy as much as possible. I love going to the movies...
There's also the example that the Mormons show, of going door to door for two years in spite of people slamming the door in their faces time after time after time...so they can come to you and tell you that you, too, can be a god. You have to admire their fortitude, their perseverance, their apparent love for their god. The JWs, too. It's not a happy time they're having, of going door to door. Probably not very rewarding, as few people as will even talk to them. But they are sure making a good display of living out Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission. It takes a passion, I would think, to go so long door to door with so little encouragement. That passion again--do I have so much of it?
I am thankful that I don't have to fear the ongoing wrath of God for the many times that I took His name in vain--even though He promised He would not leave the offender unpunished. It isn't that the crime is going unpunished, either. Jesus has taken my punishment for each and every time I spoke that holy Name in an unholy way--Jesus died on the cross for my carelessness.
How much do I love my God? I had better think about that a while. Matthew 24:12-13 says "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." In Revelation 3:15, Jesus declares, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." How warm is my love for God? Could it be declared hot in any regard, let alone all of them? I only know I have a long way to go.