Christians often make mistakes. We’re human, and it’s unavoidable, no matter how much grace we receive. Christians on our campus have made mistakes, and grace and forgiveness are the Godly course to take. Here’s the thing, though—being Christian means that our actions are subject to scrutiny, not just from our peers, but from non-believers.
Jesus molds us. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. We are the clay, he is the potter, and so on. If you grew up in the church, you’ve heard these adages on countless occasions.
But what if it were the opposite? What if we, as Christians, actually sculpt Jesus—what he looks like, how he acts, his values and abilities?
Well, guess what? For those outside of the faith, we do sculpt Jesus. We give them an impression of what he is like. Going about our daily lives, through good times and bad, we create an image of Christianity, but it often looks more like us than Jesus.
As I reflect upon the Ten Commandments, the third one gives me pause. “Thou shall not take my name in vain.” We all know what that one means, right? Don’t cuss or say “OMG.” There’s a list of about thirteen words you don’t say, and you’re good to go.
Still, this is a command God himself gave to Moses, etched in stone. There has to be more to it than keeping your mouth clean. I posed this line of thinking to a scholar far smarter than I and his response was fascinating.
This scholar told me a historical anecdote leading up to his point: Alexander the Great ruled the ancient world with widespread efficiency, and one day, a soldier defied his orders. Alexander called the soldier into his tent and asked his name. The soldier answered, “Alexander.” The great ruler responded, “You carry the name of a king. Either change your behavior or change your name.”
“Taking the Lord’s name in vain” literally means to adopt God’s name and then soil it. As a Christian, I am God’s representative on earth, his method of outreach to nonbelievers. I wear a permanent nametag that designates me as a child of God held to a higher standard. Thus, when I gossip or steal or hate, not only do I disobey God’s will, but I also reduce his appeal to others.
We carry the name of the King, and how we act dictates how others see him. If we are not living how he would have us live, we need to either change our behavior or change our name. Behaving in a righteous manner is obviously very important to God. He put it on the same list as murder.