“As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’ No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” Romans 2:24,29 New International Version
If is a small word with so much power packed into two letters. It can be used to encourage, to lift up, draw in, to connect, and it can create opportunities which last an eternity.
There is also the flip side, a dark side that can destroy as well as it creates. That little two letter word could send one crashing and questioning oneself over every possibility seen or experienced. And a person’s past can reflect which direction that one little word might have sent the hearer!
Over the years I have been schooled in the understanding of the Internal Dictionary. Most of us were brought up attending school, learning the fine points of communicating in the English Language. One of the assets we were taught to use was the dictionary. Realizing we all attended different schools, there was still a common denominator. Most of us attended school in the one of the 50 states. That should mean we were all exposed to the same words, same basic dictionary, same basic meanings.
So, why do we find it so difficult to communicate our ideas, understandings, and thoughts, when we are supposed to be using the same language? That’s right, it is because of the internal dictionary we all carry around in our minds. It’s the dictionary based on our sub-culture, where we live, our ancestry, the economic strata in which we were reared or currently live. It all adds up to a private dictionary we use to understand what others are saying to us.
What happens when two persons are using the same word, but each understands it to have a different meaning? The meaning for those two is based not on the dictionary definition, but on the background of each one trying to communicate. Quite often what happens is anything but communication! Rather than being able to come to an understanding, division occurs and the inability to have a meeting of minds creates a minefield. Rather than building each other up, divisions cause separations that often take years, and even generations, to heal
And where does this miscommunication minefield exist all too often? In the very place it needs to happen the least, the church. It is in the church where finding a safe place to exchange thoughts, ideas, concerns, fears, and challenges is needed now more than ever. The Church must be or become the safest place on this planet, a place to find safety and healing. The very fact that this is not the norm for those seeking a place of refuge in the church reveals how little we know about Grace as it is found in Jesus.
When I continue to live in the past, I miss the opportunities to live in the present. Multitudes of those in the church miss this very essential understanding of the First Commandment. Taking God’s name in vain goes way beyond what flows out of mouths! The greatest revelation is in the attitudes and actions, the way others are treated by those claiming the name of Jesus!
The Christian Community only has to look inside its own doors to reveal its greatest enemy. It’s us, the ones claiming the name of Jesus Christ while living like He was still in that tomb dead! Our words witness to a risen, living Savior and our lives deny Him over and over as we ignore those who are desperately seeking Jesus as the answer to their lives of pain, fear, confusion, bewilderment, and just plain being lost!
We have the answer they are looking for, it’s not a bunch of “Thou Shalt Not’s”. The answer is an amazing gift handed special delivery by the Creator to everyone who has lived, is living, and will live. This same Jesus who went to the cross for you and me, and not only for those who choose to believe. Whether everyone accepts the gift or not does not void the reality. The gift exists to be accepted until that last breath is taken!
Jesus has offered us the opportunity to be involved with Him in reaching those who are searching for the answers God has for them. We know this, because the questions they are asking are the same ones we asked. The issues of humanity are the same, those things which ensnare us all are the same. It seems to me it comes back to the issue of the God Complex, that Sin that drives us to believe we have a right to be the Law Givers.
When we look at the scripture Paul has brought to the attention of the Roman church, we see it reveals an attitude that often interferes with our spiritual growth and our witness to the world. What is shown on our outward activities when we are on our guard does not reveal who we are in Christ. It’s what shows itself when we are not aware that it is being revealed. Our responses to others, our willingness to serve rather than be served, taking up the Commission that Jesus gave to us, His Disciples.
The Gospel Commission is this: to tell the world about the God who chose death over living without us, that makes the difference. God asks us to love and welcome those He sends our way to become disciples of Jesus as well as inviting them to enter into the process of Grace. We have the information they need to respond to God’s invitation to join the Family. The revelation of all those characteristics come from the new heart, the new mind, the new you. Both we and they become what God intended us to become through the Ministry of God’s Grace in our lives!
This message is repeated over and over throughout the Old and New Testaments, God takes responsibility for the “circumcision” of the heart. In other words, God makes sure we will receive the transformation needed for our lives here and now. There is a guarantee included in the gospel; receive the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrected life and Forever Life with Him in Eternity is guaranteed! Not only is it guaranteed, it also comes with a warranty that never expires. Our new lives will never fail as they are sealed in Jesus Christ!
The only way to prevent God’s name being blasphemed is to seek to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes God’s Grace! How God manages it all I have not a clue, yet I know He manages it all because I am not as I once was. The danger to God’s reputation comes from our unwillingness to receive: 1) the forgiveness He gives, 2) accepting the new heart and life He offers, 3) rejoicing in the reality of what Jesus has offered 4) knowing each and every day God has you confidently held in His hands.
What we know is we will never get it right all the time, therefore Grace covers everything in us that is in opposition to who God is in us! This is why Paul tells us it is the heart God changes, because real transformation occurs in the heart and mind as it is accomplished by God. This is a process guaranteed by Grace which in turn is guaranteed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why it’s called Good News!
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running,and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Philippians 3:12-16 The Message