“But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.” (Ezekiel 36:21, ESV)
What did the nation of Israel do to profane God’s name? In reading the Old Testament prophets I find these themes recurring:
- They allowed the surrounding culture to corrupt their worship of the one true God.
- They ignored Scriptural commands when they conflicted with their material gain or personal pleasure.
- They became unconcerned about social justice issues.
Let’s be honest. On a personal level and as a group we struggle with these same issues. The very first temptation began with the words, “Did God really say . . .” and we have struggled to obey ever since.
My observation of Christendom in 2015 is that we sometimes profane the name of God by misrepresenting him in our dealings with those outside the church. We are seen as judgmental and unforgiving by much of the populace. As a group, we can be quick to denounce and slow to forgive. A cursory internet search will provide numerous examples of condemnation and “holier-than-thou” nonsense coming from Christians. The nonsense is not only targeted at non-Christians, we have a tendency to condemn other Christians over the slightest provocation.
When those outside the church criticize our lack of love and hypocrisy, we respond as if we are being persecuted. But much of the perceived “persecution” is self-inflicted. We are rightly condemned by the culture around us when we fail to represent Jesus well.
We will fix this when we become less concerned about our own reputations and more concerned about God’s name. We need to be less inclined to misrepresent God to the people who do not claim a relationship with him.
In John 17:1 Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you . . .” Jesus was all about bringing glory to the father.
The next time you feel like going on a rant about your pet issue, ask yourself these questions:
- Who gets the glory? Am I concerned about my reputation or am I concerned about people recognizing the glory of God?
- Does my action misrepresent the character of God as displayed in Jesus?
I keep coming back to the fact that the only group toward which Jesus was harsh were the Pharisees. Jesus was harsh with them because they should have known better.
They say that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I agree and freely admit that I have a long way to go and God has a lot of work to do in me so that I can more accurately reflect the character of God. So, this post is not in condemnation of anyone.
What this post is intended to condemn is unrighteous anger, stony hearts and self-righteousness. All of which I put on display at the most inopportune times.
Perhaps if we all look in the mirror and admit that we fail to accurately represent God, we could then begin the process of restoring the damage and show people in 2015 AD why the Jesus who walked the Earth was so appealing to people in 30 AD.