A Challenge for Us All:
Profaning the Name of Godby Dan Stolebarger, Director of Koinonia Institute
Over the last few months I have been making my way through the Book of Jeremiah. Along the way I have been able to see a major thread that the Lord has used in my life. It has to do with profaning the Name of the Lord.
What does it mean to profane? Simply put it means to “make common.” One dictionary defines it as: profane-the sphere of the ordinary and routine; the everyday, natural world. So, what does it mean to profane His Name? For me this has to do with a lack of awe, making God my buddy, and not trembling before Him: “‘Do you not fear Me?’ says the LORD. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence?’” (Jer 5:22).
Sometimes when we read the Scriptures we need to hear God speaking, not just to the tribes of Israel through the prophet, but also to our very hearts! As I read this I was drawn to the following passages found in both the Psalms and the Proverbs:
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
When was the last time you trembled before the Holy One of Israel? Not so much with fear, but with awe and respect, acknowledging Him as God? For me, I am dealing with some giants in the land and I have been less like Caleb and more like the other spies; in other words, I have been profaning God-simply making Him common and honestly believing that my giants were too big for Him to handle. As I was driving into work the other day, I went a different route and, as I was mucking my way through, I saw one of those freeway billboards with the following passage: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen 18:14).
It was then the Lord dealt gently with me, reminding me of who He was! I needed to worship Him with a spirit of holiness. I needed to tremble in the presence of the Almighty God. I needed to BELIEVE that He alone can conquer the giants in my land!
With this in mind, I was amazed by the latest confessions that have come out of Willow Creek, perhaps the largest and one of the most influential churches in America today. Having been to Willow, I can attest to their passion for ministry, so by no means is the following intended to be derogatory! With that being said, take a look at the following quote from Bill Hybels concerning the state of Willow Creek. Not long ago, Willow released its findings from a multiple-year qualitative study of its ministry. Basically, they wanted to know what programs and activities of the church were actually helping people mature spiritually and which were not:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for...We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become “self feeders.” We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.
Christianity Today, October 2007
In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs, but through the age-old spiritual practices of prayer, Bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.
I really believe that the Holy Spirit is putting new wine into new wineskins and that the ruach of God is blowing across the land, waking up believers with the challenge to be The People of the Book! People today do not need our good advice and our feel-good stories-they need the Word of God! It is the job of everyday Christians like you and me to tell them the Story that has roots and is the most powerful force in the universe for it is the very WORD of GOD-let’s give it to them undiluted and undefiled!
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.