I recently watched a podcast talking about the Ten Commandments and which one of them we break most often. The podcaster suggested it is the third commandment: don’t use the Lord’s name in vain. He clarified that the commandment does not simply mean that we should not use God’s name as profanity, but that we are His name bearers. We represent His name to the world. And we are created in His image.
I have understood that this verse means more than just not using God’s name in inappropriate ways, and I’ve understood that the flippant, insincere “God bless you” is taking His name in vain, but as we began memorizing John 15 this summer, I realized that Jesus’ discourse about the vineyard teaches the same thing. We bear His name. We minister in His name and with His power in our lives, or we don’t minister at all. When we try to do ministry in our own strength, we use His name in vain because we carry His name, but we are denying it. We are relying on our own names, our own strength, and our own wisdom.
Many today are disillusioned with the Church because, at least sometimes, they are seeing a form of Christianity that denies God’s power (2 Tim. 3:5), that does not truly follow God and His word. We bear His name. Apart from Him, we can do nothing! And trying to live the Christian life apart from His wisdom, power, and guidance is taking His name in vain.
We are called to abide. To remain. To rely on Him which means we carry His name and His character with us, in us, and allow Him to work through us. It means we stop striving in our own strength and stop doing what seems right in our own eyes (Judges 17:6 ad others) to simply rest in Him and follow Him throughout each day. John 15 is a call to communion and to the real Christian life. It is a keeping of the third commandment. It is everyday discipleship every day for you and me.
I pray we stop and recognize where our hearts are. Are we trying to please God by doing ministry in our own strength? Are we trying to live the Law or walk in grace with the life of the Vinedresser coursing through our lives? Lord, help us find rest and life in You. May we bear much fruit because we are abiding in You. And please help our children see what it means to abide in Christ in our lives. Amen.