“‘You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.'” (Ezekiel 20:44)
I must begin by making a confession.
After what I believed to be a bit of careful research, I decided to watch the movie Inception. The reviews were startling. Great suspense, mind-tripping story, great effects. Those initial film reviews hooked me, and I thought that perhaps this is a movie I could watch, without blurring my own standards of film-watching.
So, to Google I went, undergoing a bit of research, perusing through “parental reviews” and such, wanting to find anything that would disclose any unwanted behaviors or conversations. To be honest to you, too, dear reader, I found nothing like that. It seemed like an intense movie with great suspense, and that sort of storytelling warranted the rating.
I watched it. And I was as surprised by what I heard, as by how I reacted.
DiCaprio’s character has a serious mishap of some sort, and a certain word slipped from his mouth. I was a bit perplexed at first, and perplexed at the choice of the word. And then a rather silly truth dawned on me.
In films, words do not slip. They are intentional, written on a script, rehearsed by paid actors.
The word he spoke was a flippant use of God’s name, with an attached curse to it. It is a word common in most movies.
But uncommon to me. I have not watched a PG-13 movie in almost two years. It has been a long, long time since I had heard any word quite like that.
And, in all of the reviews I could find, I never once found a review that mentioned the use of that certain word.
In the meantime, then, God has convicted me. I have apologized for the time I spent watching that film. The story was fine. But it was overshadowed by the chosen phrase, and I could not escape that in my own mind. I kept hearing it in my own memory, and realized that I had traveled a road I left long ago.
I am not holy, though, and I am certainly not holier than you. I am only writing this here because of what God has revealed to me in my own study time. Let me explain.
For the better part of a month, now, I have read, and re-read, the book of Ezekiel. Each chapter drips with story and purpose and holiness, and, as it is, I can only digest two or three chapters on any given day. What God has revealed to me, through those pages, plays on a loop in my thoughts.
One of the pervasive truths to me, in that book, is how God reacts to the apostasy of his people. They are in breach of contract, and God, as author and enforcer of that contract, must not break His word. There will be punishment.
But there will also be blessing. Grace, even. He will restore them. That is the common theme of the prophets.
He does all of this – all of His holy action – on behalf of His name.
He does not bring punishment because they deserve it.
Nor does He bring blessing because of their merit.
He does both because He will not allow a different story to be told. He will not allow the world to know Him as an incomplete and incompetent God.
God places a high value on His name.
If that is true, then how can we engage in anything that intentionally devalues the name of God?
If all He does is for the sake of His own name, and if His name is His chiefest value, then we must value His name above all else. And if that means forsaking films which denigrate His name, then so be it.
Ah, but grace. Grace is powerful. It is “a thought that changed the world.” And it also leads to a tremendous amount of abuse.
It should not ever be used to cover intentional sin. Romans 6 attests to that. Once we leave a life of destructive decisions, we should never want to go back. Grace not only covers our mistakes, but should make us not want to commit those same mistakes twice. It is a thought that should change your world.
We’ve been seduced into thinking that a little bit of sin in an otherwise moral film is acceptable. We disregard words for the sake of relevancy. But should we? If God’s name is not valued, then what else is left? What else can we claim as right? As holy?
Please see God’s name as holy. See it as the standard for all He does. Hear it, and hear the word of real salvation. And let it bother you when it is misused. Let it bother you greatly.