I saw a short post earlier this week on the phrase “OMG.” Its tone was a little harsh for my taste, but its message resonated with me, and I wanted to expand on it this week.
Growing up, I was never allowed to say, “Oh my gosh,” “geez,” or anything else resembling taking the Lord’s name in vain. Even to this day, whenever my sweet mom hears someone on TV say, “Oh my God” (this hurts me to even type!), she facetiously comments, “Oh, they must be praying!” Maybe you say it a hundred times a day, and maybe you cringe when you hear people say it. Either way, let’s dig deeper into why this phrase does not honor our God.
The Jews of the Old Testament did not even dare to speak God’s name. He was YHWH, or Yahweh. In Hebrew, it means “I AM.” As a New Testament Christian, I can’t even fathom the deep respect and holy fear of God Almighty that goes behind not even speaking the name of the One who is the center of my life. Anytime you see in your Old Testament “The LORD,” that’s YWHH. That’s our I AM. What does that even mean?
God identified Himself to a fugitive, hiding for 40 years from the murder he committed in the desert, as He set fire to a bush that did not burn up (Exodus 3:14). He then used this man to lead His chosen people out of slavery and oppression, and gave them laws to make them holy, like He is holy. He says over and over again in the Laws of Moses, “I AM the Lord your God. Be holy, as I am holy.” He reminds his spiritually adulterous wife, the nation of Israel, “For I AM the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).
Then John writes of the Messiah, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), linking Jesus Christ of Nazareth with this idea of eternal timelessness of YHWH. Jesus affirms these I AM statements throughout His ministry: “I AM, do not be afraid” (John 6:20) to a man sinking in the storm; “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58) to Jews taking pride in their lineage; “I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35) to a group of people looking for more free meals; “I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) to his confused disciples. The list goes on. Jesus affirms He is One with the Father, the I AM, through these statements.
Who is the I AM? He is Savior, Redeemer, Creator, Sustainer, Father, Beloved, Life, Almighty, YHWH saves, Messiah, Beginning, End, Alpha, Omega, Light, Truth, Husband, Lord, Giver, Lamb, Risen, Mediator, Great High Priest, Sacrifice, Atonement, Salvation, King, Holy, Faithful, Deliverer, Life-Giver, Resurrection, Overcomer, Friend, Comforter, Purpose, Love, Most High.
He is not a casual response to a text message. He is not a knee-jerk reaction to an event. He is not a catchy slogan to put on a billboard or commercial. He is not filler words in a song. He is not a name to be thrown around lightly. He is Name Above All Names. And we as Christians have the privilege of freely speaking it as we approach the throne of His grace (Hebrews 4:16). If you want to break this habit, try substituting any of his other names after “oh my ___.” Sacrifice? Creator? Deliverer? Somehow that just doesn’t sound right, does it? May we all have the deep respect, bold love, and holy fear for our I AM that his Name is only praise on our lips.