This weekend our pastor preached a barn-burner as we wrapped up a five week series called The Name. (No seriously: he lit a match, dropped it in a bale of hay, and whoosh: Mrs. O’Leary’s cow said “Well done.”)
One segment of the message was so poignantly powerful, I took the liberty of just ripping it off completely and reproducing it here. You should listen to the message or at least download the transcript.
In the Gospel of John we see Jesus repeatedly taking the name I AM and declaring it to our weaknesses. The name I AM dominates the Gospel of John.
- To those who feel in darkness, he says, “I am the light.”
- To those who thirst, “I am the living water.”
- To those who feel lost, “I am the way.”
- To those confused, “I am the truth.”
- To those under the curse of death, “I am the life.”
- To those who feel insufficient, “I am the Good Shepherd.”
- To those who need a fresh start, “I am the door.”
- To those crushed by guilt, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
- To the unrighteous, he says, “I am your righteous covering.”
- To the powerless he says, “I will be your defense.”
- To the empty he says, “I’ll be your fullness.”
- To the dead, he says, “I’ll be your resurrection,”
- and to the defeated he says, “I’ll be your hope.”
Now, knowing what you know about God’s name, I want you think about a command in a new light… Commandment 3: Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. This was always taught to me as “Do not say, Oh my God, Good Lord, or Jesus Christ” as an exclamation! True. But a friend of mine points out that this was not just a command on how to use God’s name, but how to take his name.
When you became a Christian, you took God’s name, I AM. The properties of the “I AM” became yours. You became one with him. What he has you have. You became a participant in the divine nature, an inheritor of the divine promises. When you say “No” to God, or falter in obedience, or cower before an assignment, because you think, “I am not ____,” you are taking his name in vain, because though I am not, he is, and we are one.
When you say, “I am so stupid. I am a loser. I am such a terrible mom.” God says, “I am not any of those things! And if I am in you, you are not either.” What I am, you are. Stop taking my name in vain.
He is. And because he is, you no longer have to be, because he is enough for both of you.
Now: head into the week in that truth.