Monday, February 1, 2010

“Him, Who? Part 4”

There is a practice that many Christians have adopted where, when they are writing about God, they capitalize the "H" in "He," whenever it refers to God. Whereas this practice in no way is prescribed in Scripture, and most translations don't even use it, it is good for several reasons. First of all, it is helpful in clarifying a story. If the story includes God as well as a man (or men), it makes it such that you don't have to keep repeating names to keep the story straight. In other words, you can use "He" for God and "he" for Mark, without having to say "God" and "Mark" over and over again. In another way, it is a sign of respect to God's name. While it is true that God never referred to Himself as "God" (He only spoke in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek directly to people), it is a beneficial and biblical practice to use reverence whenever you use any name to refer to God. This is an easy way in which you can honor God's commandment to not take His name in vain. That isn't to say that not capitalizing "Him" is a sin, but simply that doing so can be beneficial. Lastly, and most importantly, giving this reverence to God's name sets Him apart from the gods of the world (note the difference between God and gods). Not only does it set Him apart from gods like Allah, Buddha, or Baal, it also sets Him apart from the gods we create, like ourselves, our idols, and our misguided priorities.

It is this separation that we have been studying in this series. Today, I would like to look at a passage that comes right after the one we studied last week. Genesis 16:13 references a name for God that people rarely use. It happens in the context of the comfort an angel brought to Hagar, the servant of Sarai who bore an heir to Abraham while Sarai was barren. Hagar had been troubled because she had been put out of the household of Abraham, and after she heard from the messenger of the Lord, "she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'You are a God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.'" She even named the place where she was, "Well of the Living One Who Sees Me." When God had shown Hagar that He watches over her and protects her, she honored Him with a custom name to fit the occasion. Even though I do believe that God has chosen ways in which He wants us to refer to Him, I believe He has also paved the way for us to refer to Him by the ways in which He has acted toward us. My wife, Wendy, for example, refers to God as "Daddy" in her prayers. This is so partly because the New Testament tells us that, with the Spirit in our hearts, we can call God Abba, which is an affectionate term for father, and partly, I think, because He in many ways has been the father to her that she has lacked in her life. I invite you to think about how God has worked personally in your life, and then worship Him in light of that provision, protection, or promise.

-Mark Whitaker, Minister of Music and Worship, Interim Minister of Students

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