We can’t make God’s name holy. It is holy. He is holy.
The book of Revelation, in particular, gives us a glimpse of Heaven where ‘day and night’ the constant song is heard: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come” (chapter 4 verse 8.) Later: “Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory, honour, and power. For you created all things, and by your will they were given existence and life” (chapter 4 v 11.) Still later: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honour, glory and might, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5 v 13.) I could go on …. but in this book, we see how beings in Heaven, where sight is purer and less complicated than on our compromised but beautiful planet, respond to the Most High God.
So why this blogpost, I hear you asking?
All around us, the name of God is spoken casually …. “O …. M….. G!” (I shudder when I hear this, it’s on the same level as saying “Oh my chewing gum!” or “Oh my onions!” … it has nothing to do with God, it has nothing to do with any meaning we ascribe to Him or relationship we have with Him.)
Alternatively, the name of God is spoken as a swear word. I would like to think there’s an element of prayer there (praying for help to God, Jesus Christ etc.), but I suspect not in the majority of cases! So it would be like using your husband’s / wife’s / significant other’s / best friend’s name – as a swear word – or hearing others do exactly that. Or hearing your own name used in that way. How would that feel?
So if we can’t make God’s name holy and the rest of the world doesn’t see it as holy, why did Jesus tell his disciples to pray, ‘Hallowed be Your name?’ What does ‘hallowed’ mean, anyway?
Dictionary.com gives me two meanings:
- Honour as holy.
- Make holy; consecrate.
So how do we do this in our everyday lives? A number of ways:
- If we treat God’s name (His person) as holy, this will show in our lives and very being. If God is holy, that will permeate through everything we are and believe. If we do not act as if He is holy, that will also show. This is not to convict others any more than it is to convict – and spur on – myself. The more we reflect God in our attitudes and priorities, the more we will be like Him. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3: ‘All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory’ (verse 18.)
- If we honour God’s name with our lives, we will act as He has told us to towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. One of these commandments is recounted in John’s gospel, where Jesus tells his disciples a new commandment – “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13 v 34.) This commandment, like many in the Old Testament, has a promise attached: “If you have love for one another, then everyone will now that you are my disciples.” (John 13 v 35.) There are, possibly inevitably, disagreements in interpretation and focus between different Christian individuals or denominations, but if we focus more on the disagreements than on the God who unites us, we do not bring Him glory. If we prayerfully ask God to give us wisdom, and accept that none of us is infallible except God alone, we will bear with each other in love. And this will bring honour to God.
- Finally, the way we act in the world will show God at work in us and so give Him glory. People will see our actions and this will point them towards the living God. This is not to say that we act to find favour with men, become ‘yes’ men and women so that people will like us. Sometimes we have to act with principle, which sometimes grudgingly, people will recognise as marking us out as God’s people, even if they do not understand it. One example that inspires me is Gordon Wilson:
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/interviewing-gordon-wilson-was-nearest-id-ever-get-to-being-in-presence-of-a-saint-28491343.html. More recently, Maureen Greaves is another example of Christian witness bringing God honour: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23357060. Both of these have suffered horrendous personal tragedies, but not allowed these to embitter them or dilute their great faith in God. And such public testimony and forgiveness must bring glory to God.
Not all of us, thankfully, are called upon to face such tragedy, but all of us can bring glory to God in the way we live. No small task, but we have a great God who comes to us precisely at the point of our weakness, telling us as he told Paul: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak” (2 Corinthians 12: 10.) If we but ask – we will surely receive the help we ask for.
So let us pray as Jesus taught us: ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name ….’
(Picture credits: Pic 1 – http://www.restorationchurchtx.com/Events.htm, Pic 2 –http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/interviewing-gordon-wilson-was-nearest-id-ever-get-to-being-in-presence-of-a-saint-28491343.html and Pic 3 –http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23357060. All Bible verses unless otherwise stated come from the Good News Translation. )