Christians have a lot of confusing “jargon”. If you grew up in the church, there are certain words and phrases that are supposed to be intuitively understood. If you didn’t grew up in the Bible Belt, or in an old-time church, you may feel like you’ve been dropped into a parallel universe where people speak the King’s English– but it’s King James’ English! Words that would fit neatly into a Shakespearean monologue are flung at you: “Thou shalt not,” “graven images”, “begat”, “beseecheth”, “whosoever believeth,” “Hallowed be Thy Name.”
As a child, I used to think the phrase was “hollow-ed be thy name”– it was confusing. Why would God want his name emptied and hollow? Why would I do that? Of course, it was explained to me that “hallowed” meant holy, or honored, or revered. That made more sense, but I think in some ways we have done more “hollow-ing” and less “hallow-ing” of God’s name in our churches lately.
And it’s not just the argument I hear a lot about actual language usage. I hear some people complain about those who pray to “Daddy God” or “Papa God” or those who use “OMG” when they text, or “Jeesh!” To me, these are “splinter” arguments (another Christian jargon term, referring to Jesus’ example of someone trying to pick a splinter out of someone else’s eye when they have a plank in their own!). That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be careful about the words and names we choose, especially around those who do not know Jesus personally. But the core issue isn’t the vocabulary, but the attitude. The real trend I see is that we are losing our attitude of AWE in God’s presence. We use words, and carry attitudes that devalue the one who is most worthy of our absolute best. Or, we try to put ourselves, our own efforts, and our own attitudes in His place. God IS our Father. He is not “the man upstairs,” or “the Big Guy,” or “Daddy-O.” He is not our “pal” in the sense of any other human acquaintance. He is the Lord of the Universe! But we can call Him “Lord, Lord” and still not have a relationship with Him (see Matthew 7:21-23). Using “religious” sounding language doesn’t make us any closer to God in our heart, and it certainly doesn’t fool Him!
God wants a relationship with us; he loves us with an extravagant, boundless, and everlasting love. He doesn’t want us to run from him in fear or hide from him behind big, empty, but important-sounding words. In fact, in his time on Earth, Jesus walked side by side with his disciples, he ate with people, embraced his friends and family, danced, burped, wiped his nose, held children on his lap, laughed, and lived among us. But he is eternally GOD. Yahweh– the LORD–I AM. Almighty, all-powerful, omniscient and completely HOLY. And his Name is to be revered.
When we say that we follow Christ; when we call ourselves Christians, we bear that name– we take on that Hallowed name–we strive to be ambassadors and representatives of the name which is above all names. This isn’t just about saying his name, “Jesus”, “Father”, “Savior”, “Heavenly Father” in a less-than-honorable fashion. It’s about how we represent His Name as his ambassadors.
We’re not perfect; we will not always live up to the Name we carry– that’s part of the Gospel message–Jesus came to show us how we ought to live, and to give us victory over the reality that we can’t do it in our own flawed state. But in praying “Hallowed be thy Name,” we are not asking for God’s name to become more honorable. We are asking God to give us the wisdom, the power, and the desire to bring him the honor and worship he so rightly deserves. And that only happens when we live transparently, humbly, and in a manner worthy of His Name.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name…”
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