This is my folder; plenty of pages in here. And in preparation for Sunday mornings, I write my thoughts and bring them up here. But I woke this morning, not unusual for Saturday night, at about two o’clock and then I think and prepare in prayer for my message my words to you. And I was moved to rise from bed and write other words and so here’s the yellow tablet and my ballpoint pen writing and the third commandment: “Take the name of the Lord your God not in vain,” no. The name of God; what is it? Like it is for you and for me; the name is who you are. The people know you for words that you have spoken and for work that you have done. And that’s who you are. Your name becomes the incarnation of your words and your work.
So how can we break the commandment of God? Well obviously, by profanity. Its this commandment that a couple thousand years ago, a few thousand years ago caused religious leaders to issue the order that religious people are not to use profanity. And profanity became an anti cultural term so that even today profanity is still recognized even by the secularists as something less than the best. When it should motivate us to create a vocabulary of adjectives and adverbs and nouns that honor our fellow society members. The third commandment: “take not the name of they Lord thy God in vain.”
How can we break this commandment? We break it then, obviously, when we use profanity and our vocabulary becomes rude and cruel, unintelligent and abusive. So one way to keep it positively is to try to keep working on our vocabulary as we go along through life, which most of us probably don’t do. We just have a vocabulary that seems to get us by and we don’t try to bother with new adjectives or adverbs.
How can we break this commandment? We break it by personality also when we allow ourselves to develop a personality that does not honor God but embarrasses Him by how we treat our fellow human beings.
If I could summarize it in a sentence, which I wrote here, its lack of reverence for the sacred and in the conflict in life between the sacred and the profane, and we misunderstand that we are always torn in that, knowingly or unknowingly, there is the sacred and there is the profane. And in the conflict between the two, we in all that we see, or hear, or feel in the cultural conflict in society we must maintain reverence for the sacred in our society, in our day and age especially, the widespread profanity and the use of sex is enough to greatly dishonor the Lord who created the fabulous potential of sex for love and relationships, for the baring of children, and the happiness of marriage. That’s the sacred. Turn the secular into the sacred. Turn the sacred into the secular.
What is the positive challenge of this commandment? It’s to sense and to see that all the timing in this world while we’re eating and living and breathing there is around us a pressure that would draw us away from God until what is sacred becomes secular and then we’re in trouble but we may not know it.
So the call of this commandment is to see God in the secular. The name of God; it’s not just a word like God and Jesus and the Lord, its nature around us. That is God’s work. It is God’s wonder. It is God’s word so we respect Him in nature. We respect Him in the living plants, the stars in the sky. It is seeing that life is all a reflection of God, whether you see it or don’t see it, it is God around us and we must have a reverence for life and all that’s in it. Then we embrace the name of God in friends, in people, in fellow human beings. All around us in every living creature, God is alive, constantly, always. And so taking not the name of God in vain means don’t embarrass people. They are the name of God. Don’t shame people. Honor them, uplift them. It’s what we try to do as a focus in this ministry in bringing dignity to fellow human beings.
Then the secular life becomes sacred and we are worshipping God in the process. And that’s why when we invite you to accept Jesus Christ in your heart, here’s what happens: your attitudes do change and more than you’re aware of, you are changing from a purely secular person to a sacred creature. That you are becoming an instrument and God looking through you, listening through you, touching people through you, helping people, inspiring people encouraging people through you. So you, a secular person, become a sacred person. You become a part of the image of God in society. Yes your personality is transformed when you really ask Christ to be Lord of your life. You turn from a secularist to a sacred creature.
So we invite you to take Christ into your life, as we say, as Lord and Savior. And I think it’s relatively easy for people to accept Jesus as their Savior. You carry enough of guilt with you that you want forgiveness of sins. You have enough anxiety about what happens after you die that to accept Jesus as your Savior and be there to bring you to heaven is relatively easy. What’s tough is to make Him Lord over your life so that He becomes the subconscious power within you affecting your attitude toward people and the words of your conversation and dialogue.
“Take not the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Take God seriously and you do that by embracing Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior. And then simply ask the question what would Jesus do? What would Jesus say? What look would Jesus carry on my face? What words would Jesus like to have me drop? Let Him become Lord over your life wherever you are: behind the wheel of the car, or a passenger, at work or play. The positive fulfillment of this commandment comes when you accept Him as Lord. Take the name of God seriously and He will bless you. First of all, with a wonderful sense of humble pride and you’ll be filled with self-respect when you feel the spirit of Jesus smiling and talking and looking at people through you.
I remember when Dr. Peale first preached for me in the Orange drive in theater. If you don’t know what a drive in theater was, you’re too young, that was our first church for six years. I’d climb a step ladder, get on the tarpaper roof, stand on top of the snack bar rooftop and talk to you in your cars. And then I invited Peale to preach for me in the drive in theater, and he said yes, which kind of surprised me. He came and we walked up and we stood on that tarpaper rooftop and we looked at a packed crowd of cars. And I introduced Dr. Peale and he came up and he said ”Well, if Jesus was here, what would He tell you? What would His sermon be? Would He tell you what a sinner you are and probably point out some of your guilt?” I think at that point in my life I hadn’t matured and I maybe nodded my head yes because we got a pack of sinners here this morning, that’s for sure.
Then Norman said, “What He would tell you is follow Me and I will make you fishers of men and you will be the light of the world, salt of the earth, really good people. Come to Me.” Wow. As you can tell, the passion I say it, I never forgot that sermon or the man who gave it.