The name and nature of God
IN Arthur Miller's moving drama The Crucible, the central character is forced to sign his name to a false confession. Then he crumples the document in his hands, preventing it from being posted where all could see his signature. In anguish he cries, ``I have given you my soul; leave me my name!''1 Intentional or not, it's a line with Biblical roots. In the Bible, name often means nature. To sacrifice one's name would be to lose something essential regarding one's nature.
What about the name we are to hallow, to adore, respect, honor? The name of God? The Biblical names for God, such as I AM, Father, Spirit, Love, tell us much of His nature. To know that nature is to know the very essence of His being. It is to know the one true force, the one supreme, unopposable power in the universe, for God is omnipotent and omnipresent. His is a nature that could never be taken away or lost even if the words that describe His nature were lost. To know, to truly understand, God's name and nature is to ally oneself with that which never fails, which is never empty or hollow.
The Third Commandment reads, ``Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.''2 A surface view of this commandment would have us think of it merely as an admonition against profane language. A useful reminder, to be sure, but isn't there further meaning to one of the ten fundamental laws to live by? The message of this commandment goes deep. It can be seen as not only a command or warning but, taken in another sense, as a promise and an assurance. It's as if God Himself has said, ``You cannot take My name in vain. Because to take My name, to understand My nature and live in harmony with it, is never a vain or empty act but a powerful and decisive one.''
To understand God's nature and realize something of its presence and potency is effective prayer that cannot be vainly done. True prayer is not empty or ritualistic, because the power of God's name and nature is found and felt at the level of spiritual consciousness, not thoughtless ritualism, and it always brings beneficial results.
What Moses heard on Mount Sinai when he received the Third Commandment is still being divinely voiced today. We, too, can hear inwardly the promise and assurance from God and benefitfrom them.
Plainly, that takes listening on our part -- listening that involves prayer, study, understanding. It involves valuing each glimpse we get of God's nature, and striving to embody in our lives what we see in each glimpse, striving each day to follow the example of Christ Jesus. It involves depending on God in every way. Mary Baker Eddy3 writes, ``To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science.''4
You cannot know God's name and nature, and reflect that nature in your own life, in vain. Promise and assurance come from God the Father, the one Spirit, divine Love -- promise of His love and care and provision for each of His offspring. And that's what each of us really is. Our true selfhood is His image, His spiritual reflection, inseparable from His care, the very expression of infinite good.
Understandingly call on His name and identify yourself as the likeness of His nature. To do so is to see the promise fulfilled.
1The Crucible, Act IV, scene 1. 2Exodus 20:7. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Thine, O lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. I Chronicles 29:11