We learn from ancient history — from Moses, Uzzah, and others — that God is not to be treated carelessly. Most of my readers would affirm this idea today, and it surely seems unlikely that God in more contemporary times would suddenly come to appreciate flippancy.
Still, so many times each day, most of us hear and see multiple offhand instances of “OMG,” etc. — mere exclamations, obviously incorporating no prayerful intent.
Lately, I’ve overheard more spoken irreverence than usual. It punctures my soul’s ears to hear God spoken of casually, and I often turn away from such words. Of course I know that secular folks can’t be expected to have the same feelings about this kind of thing, but still. . . . (Once in a while, when a non-professing Christian I know fairly well uses a God-label carelessly, I’ll say something like “praying is probably a good idea!”)
It hurts more to hear a self-professed Christian speak lightly of God, and this, too, happens far too frequently. Two previous posts on this and related topics:
One could needlessly argue about the supposed list of “names” for God, i.e., whether we need to treat the word “God” as carefully as the word “Elohim” or “Yahweh” (or “Jireh” or “Nissi,” for that matter — and these are less “names” than descriptions). One could further argue about euphemisms such as “gee” and “gosh.” We can all grow in terms of treating God both intentionally and reverently. The primary point to be made is that God deserves all the reverence we can summon, and more.
The word “hallelujah” (also spelled “alleluia”) is another word to consider carefully. It actually incorporates a shortened form of the solitary name for God — usually spelled “Yahweh.” And it is often uttered so carelessly, as well:
√ A gospel song thoughtlessly spews “hallelujah, by and by. . . .”
√ A careless, secular person grins a “hallelujah” upon receiving news that ground beef is on sale.
√ Even preachers and other leaders can be thoughtless and irreverent with their speech-crutch insertions of “hallelujah” rendering this word as meaningless as “amen” has become.
Let’s not make a mockery of a word that so clearly signifies worship. By virtue of its etymological components, and in countless languages across the globe, it means the same thing: