Who Speaks for God?
This devotional was written by Dan Johnson
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God… Exodus 20:7a
I could probably finance my daily coffee habit for a year if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “God told me…” Since childhood, I’ve heard God’s Name used to make sales, to convince, to justify actions and even to break up with someone. Invoking the Name of God helps us to make sense of otherwise random events. And it’s understandable why we do it. The quickest comeback and the most thoughtful arguments are instantly nullified when someone plays the “God card.”
Carelessly saying, “God said this” or “God said that” can leave serious thinkers cold, turning off the doubters who want to believe, convincing them that “God” is really just our own stream of consciousness – a crutch for people who can’t come up with logical arguments to support their beliefs. We used to sing a song in church (a million years ago) that said, “Take the Name of Jesus with you...” I’m a big believer in that! In fact, the Bible says that in Him we live and move and have our being. It says that we can ask God for things and use the Name of Jesus Christ when we pray.
But the same Scriptures also warn us not to take the Name of God in vain. This is such a major issue that it occupies its own spot on the list of Ten Commandments. The verse isn’t just about swearing. It also contains the idea that we must not misrepresent God by using His Name to justify our own traditions or ideas. It’s one thing to answer for our own mistakes. It’s quite another to tell our own life stories as if each thing we did was because “God told me to do it.”
When God showed up in the Bible, it was a big deal. People were afraid, worshipped and some even fell over dead. When Jesus spoke, people were transformed, cut to the heart, saved, healed. Saying that God is in the room or that He is speaking to you is a powerful, powerful concept, especially when it’s true.
Today is a great day to think about, share, talk about and live out the positive life-giving principles clearly spelled out in the Bible. It’s okay and it’s expected that Christ-followers give answers to people who want to know why we believe what we believe, and how believing in God makes sense in a postmodern world. If we want to say, “God said,” we have thousands of great sayings and truths to quote directly from the world’s bestselling book. God still speaks; His voice still calms the troubled heart and restores the soul. God is looking for people who will be truth-tellers and encouragers. And thankfully, through His Word, the Bible, He speaks nicely for Himself.
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1. Do we find ourselves guilty of invoking “the Name” to justify our own traditions or opinions?
2. How might we frame an idea or insight when we believe God impressed it to us?
2 Timothy 3:16; Deuteronomy 28:1
Dan Johnson is the Lead Pastor of Next Church in Tacoma, Washington and CEO of the Next Leadership Association
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