“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matt 6:9)
By Stephen W. Hiemstra
The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to honor God’s name in keeping with the Third Commandment—do not take the Lord’s name in vain—because all the other commandments are leveraged on it (Exod 20:7).
Why keep the other commandments, if we dishonor God’s name?
The practical implications of honoring God arise because we are created in God’s image. Because we are created in the image of God, human life has intrinsic value—value in itself that does not change with life events. Because life has intrinsic value, we cannot accept discrimination, injustice, abuse, mistreatment of prisoners, weapons of mass destruction, euthanasia, abortion, designer babies, and a host of other detestable practices. Our human rights—a measure reflecting intrinsic value—exist because we are created in the image of a Holy God.
Our capitalist society focuses, not on intrinsic values, but on market values. Market values change with circumstances—they are volatile. Your value as a person implicitly depends on your productivity. If you are young, old, or unable to work, then you are a dependent—a burden on working people. The focus on market values inherently disrespects God’s image. When God is not honored; neither are we.
The strong influence of market values on our self-image explains, in part, is why depression rates tend to be highest among population groups—like the young adults and the senior citizens—who are unable to work. The rate of depression, suicide, anxiety disorders, addictions, and divorce appear to be correlated, in part, with changing job prospects.
When God’s name is dishonored, we also become more prone to idolatry (Rom 1:21-23). Why worship the God of the Bible, when my income and status in society depends more on my family legacy, education, and hard work? So I naturally run to all sorts of substitutes for God that work, like insurance, to manage the ups and downs of life. Alternatively, I can obsess about the security of my home, my spouse, and my children.
The implications of honoring the name of God come together in the debate over euthanasia—the right to die. If my self-image and my dignity in society are both increasingly subjected to the same market values, then I will surrender myself to assisted suicide precisely when I need support from my family. And, of course, they will agree because I have become a burden both financially and emotionally. Consequently, euthanasia is evil masquerading as compassion. We are created in the image of a holy God who declares that life is good and sacred (Gen 1:31).
Give glory to God. Honor the Name above all names. You are created in God’s image.
Praise the Name
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