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Theology Questions: Have you reduced God to an expression?

Posted by: Pastor_Don_Milton on Jan 26, 2005 - 04:37 PM
Food For Thought
Some of this story actually happened and some didn't.

My son, Josiah, poked his head in the door and said, "Johnny's saying a bad word."

"What bad word?" I said.

"He keeps saying 'Oh my God.' and he won't stop."

"Tell him to stop saying it or he has to go home."

"I did but he won't stop."

I leaned out the door and said to Johnny.

"Johnny, we don't say 'Oh my God' o­n this property. If you want to say that you'll have to go home. When you say 'Oh my God' you're making God into a tiny thing. God is not some tiny expression. He made the world."

Johnny came back later that day. My son, Josiah came in again saying, "Johnny's saying a bad word again."

"What's he saying this time?" I said.

"He's saying 'Oh my Gosh.'"

I leaned out the door and told Johnny that we don't use that expression o­n our property.

Johnny said, "My daddy said it's ok! He said Gosh isn't God."

I grabbed my dictionary from my desk that had the place marked. I was getting tired of having to point out, to the world it seemed, that using God's name as an expression is a huge sin so I'd marked the spot.

"Read this." I handed the dictionary to Johnny.

He read. "Used to express mild surprise or delight. An alteration of God. Gee, I didn't know that."

"Ah, Johnny, we don't use Gee either. That's simply an abbreviation of the name Jesus."

"Oh yeah, my aunt from the Philippines does that but she uses the other end of the word. She says 'sus.' Wow, this is kind of interesting, er... is it ok to say wow?"

"Ha ha, yes, wow is fine. Brother is fine. Man is fine. There are lots of expressions that we can use. It's just those expressions that lessen our honoring of God and the gifts he's given us that are wrong."

"Oh, ok. So it's just the words that mean God or Jesus?"

"Those are the worst kinds of expressions but there are others."

"What about when my dad gets really mad and says 'this stupid f#!*ing thing.'"

"Well that's not as bad as using God's Name as an expression. It's bad for another reason. It's bad because God gave a man and wife the most wonderful gift to share. When you use the word for that gift to mean a curse then it's lowering the wonder of that gift that God gave to a man and a wife. You'll really have to ask your dad about that."

"You mean when my aunt comes over and says 'Oh my God' or 'sus' that it's worse than when my dad says, 'stupid f#!*ing thing?'"

"It's worse to God and it's worse to me but please, don't use that other word. If the neighbors hear you they'll think we have some delinquents over here."
Josiah and Johnny started running around the driveway pretending they were about to say the word just to irritate me. I went back in the house.

That evening Johnny's dad, Ed, came over. He wasn't very happy.

"If you want to teach your son all kinds of fanatical legalism that's fine but don't teach that shit to my son. Oh sorry, did saying shit offend you?"

"Actually, it didn't. The rest of the public might be offended by it and that's why I don't use it but shit is shit. That's what you meant. You're not hurting God or anyone else by saying that. I don't think we need to honor shit, do we Ed?"

"Ha ha ha, well, you do have a sense of humor. Maybe you've got a point with this. Johnny's aunt is a born again Christian but she never talks to us about God. The o­nly time I hear God out of her is when she says, 'oh my God this, oh my God that.' Now that I think of it, it seems like it's women who say 'oh my God' more than anyone else."

"I've noticed that too, Ed, and I don't know why that is."

"I'll let Johnny know not to use 'bad words' when he's o­n your property. In fact, wherever he is."

"No shit?"

"No shit! Ha ha ha ha. So tell me about this 'fanatical' religion of yours."

"It's pretty easy. God simply says that you and I have debts."

"You're not kidding."

"Well, not just those kind but we owe God. Look at how our kids can play and enjoy themselves. Think of all the hurtful things we've done in our lives. Think about how rotten we've been at times to different people. Well, we really can't make up for that. We can't unhurt people. That's a huge debt. God says if we just admit to Him that we can never pay that debt and that could He please pay it that He will."

"Simple as that?"

"Simple as that and in fact, He did pay for all of our debts, our sins, o­n the cross."

"You're pretty straight forward, Don. I like that."

"Thanks. You've probably got a lot of shit to take care of so get out of here."

"Don, that's ok. I got the point. You don't have to keep saying 'shit'. You're starting to give me the creeps. It doesn't sound right out of your mouth."

"Yeah, you're right."

Ed went back home knowing me better. Things hadn't gotten worse, in fact, they'd gotten better. He now knew he had some answers if he ever needed them. He wasn't asked, "Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ." Maybe that type of direct approach works for some people but Ed is going to learn a lot about God from me. I'm not going to keep my mouth shut and my son, Josiah, isn't going to keep his mouth shut either. When we have barbecues we'll pray. Our prayers will be short but they'll include blessings upon our friends and neighbors. I hope that you, the reader, will remember that becoming friends with people is a series of small events. If in each of those small events your new friend or neighbor sees that you're slightly different then by the time he realizes you're o­ne huge fanatical fan of Jesus he will at least believe it and not think you're a hypocrite.Note: Some might think that I would quote "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" in regards to using God's name as an expression, however that commandment refers to lying while under an oath taken in God's name. When you say "Oh my God" you're actually admitting a disbelief in God's presence in your life and you are reducing God to a tiny expression, not a personal Savior and the Creator of all things.

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"In the universities they have ordained that no man shall look on the Scripture, until he be noselled [nursed or trained] in heathen learning eight or nine years, and armed with false principles; with which he is clean shut out of the understanding of the Scripture." William Tyndale From an 1849 printing of "Expositions and notes on sundry portions of the Holy Scriptures together with The Practice of Prelates"

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