Thanksgiving has come and gone and many of us have begun making preparations for Christmas in earnest. “OMG” is the subject of my fourth “table scrap” in the series of words used at family gatherings throughout the holiday season. OMG appears to be a smooth, catchy expression that’s become widely accepted in our culture, having found its way into everyday conversations, song titles, movies and websites featuring obscure facts.
OMG seems to convey a number of emotions ranging from extreme happiness and surprise to fright and horror. It’s much less offensive to people than its predecessors, “Oh my God,” and “God,” and can be used in many more situations. We live in a world where people feel the need to be culturally relevant and express themselves as they go about their day. I understand a person’s desire to garner love, draw attention to themselves and fit in socially with their friends. I share the same desire. Using OMG seems to fill the bill in every instance. Except I don’t use OMG in my vocabulary but that’s just me.
Some of you are saying to yourselves right about now, but what about the second commandment, you know, one of the ten big ones found in the Bible (Deuteronomy 5:6-21). This would be the commandment God told the people of Israel, “do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”
Like many of you, I was taught when I was young that using the Lord’s name in an irreverent fashion was “swearing” and thus constituted a gross violation of this commandment. Now that I am older I am inclined to see this commandment as having more to do with ambassadorship than “swearing.”
What do I mean by that? As a Christian, I have become closely associated with the person and name of Jesus Christ. In effect, I am representing Him. So in every situation life throws at me I find myself positioned as an ambassador for Christ whether I like it our not. So, if I act or speak in an unchristian manner, then I have misused the name of Jesus Christ (this would be a clear violation of the 2nd commandment). “Swearing” seems to pale in comparison to the responsibility of being an ambassador 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week doesn’t it.
These days, I find myself becoming less rattled when I am around people using “colorful” language. I am trying to look past the language and see the person beneath it. Some of these people are members of my family or friends. These are people I love and am praying for. Others are just acquaintances who I am trying to start up a simple conversation with. In those situations I want my words and actions to be less about me judging their language and more about being a genuine ambassador for Christ.
Jesus told his followers:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34, 35 NIV
As I contemplate what to think about OMG and its prevalence in our culture, I am reminded of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They had Jesus labeled a blasphemer. When one of them tried to expose him as a fraud by asking, “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus gave them this response:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40 NIV