Friday, February 17, 2012

The 10 Commandments for Parents: Taking His Name in Vain

The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. ~ Brennan Manning
Taking God's name in vain, in my mind, is far deeper than the words we exclaim in intense moments.  The real heart of this commandment is about how we live.  If we are called by His name, we need to act like Jesus would.  We color our children's perception of God, and the weight of that responsibility leaves me gasping some days.

As I have mentioned before, I grew up in the ministry.  Parents, grandparents and parents in law were all pastors.  I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly.  My husband and I have heard all the jokes and stories about preachers' kids.  We know about hypocrisy and how damaging it can be.

But I stumble.  So many days (every day?) I slip into self-centeredness.  I feel that tightness at the corners of my mouth, hear the voice of the Accuser in an angry sigh from my own mouth.  I fight to cling to gentleness when the littles are arguing, interrupting again some task I am desperate to finish...

Our youngest daughter's name means "true image".  That is what we want to be to our children.  A true image of love and grace, so that their vision of the Father won't be horribly distorted and clouded.  I rail (justly, I think) at the hypocrisy of religious teachers who claim mercy and forgiveness through the cross for adults, but insist that children pay for their sins through spankings and punishments.  Yet there are days when I want vengeance, too.

That mocking voice that jeers, "Who are you to write about parenting?" gets disturbingly loud sometimes.

The truth is that the only way to escape taking God's name in vain is to dwell in Him.  To abide in the vine.  That looks like relationship.  Spending time together.  Not in an oh-no-on-top-of-everything-else-obligatory-spiritual-quiet-time-that-I-would-look-forward-to-if-I-were-a-better-Christian way.  (Shudder).  Not another way to fail.  It looks like the evenings when my headache eases because I am resting against Carlos' chest.   Like when we laugh together and carry on a conversation despite a zillion interruptions because we know each other enough to follow along anyway.  Like the times that our eyes meet and we can't help but smile.  Like that.

I am convinced that if we spend enough time with Him, our clothes will start to smell like God's house.  "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience..."(Col. 3:12)

I breathe in grace and put on compassion and kindness, even if they fit a bit awkwardly.  

And I can trust in His power at work in my life that is helping me grow into His image and likeness.  

Taking someone's name is about becoming family.  What I want my children to see is that relationship.  Jesus said that we would be recognized as His because of love.  As a daughter of God, a mother to my children and a sister to them in Christ (why isn't this aspect talked about more in Christian parenting circles?), I want love to permeate every aspect of our days, to clothe all our interactions so that they never have to wonder if I have taken that name in vain. 

Because I can't be the only one who gets this song stuck in my head whenever I read the opening quote to this post. ;)


Pippi said...

I love the analogies you draw. You have a great talent for expressing things.

Elizabeth Childers said...


Angela M. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting that song in my head!!! Oh, how long it's been since I've heard it. I love that song. :)