In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus directed us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). Why did Jesus urge us to pray, “hallowed be your name?” Because he knew that respect for God is the foundation of all other respect.
Jesus also knew that the holiness of God’s name holds everything else together. When God and God’s name are honored all life is sacred. On the other hand, when God and God’s name are dishonored, nothing is sacred.
We wonder in our culture today about the disregard for human life, the pollution of God’s creation and the lack of ethics and morality. We wonder about the disrespect for those who have a different point of view. We wonder why to be heard people were forced to take to the streets in the first place but then allowed “this hearing” to be abused in looting, destruction and violence. So many seem to have lost touch with the holiness of God.
A man who was desperately trying to straighten the tombstone on his wife’s grave was interviewed by a television reporter. The night before a motorcycle gang played havoc in the cemetery, knocking over many tombstones and desecrating grave sights. The man in a distraught, tearful voice, asked the reporter, “Isn’t anything sacred anymore?”
I repeat, when God and God’s name are dishonored, nothing is sacred.
However when we pray, “Hallowed be your name,” we are in reality praying, “O God, cause your eternal nature, revealed in Christ, to be revered and respected by us and all others as well,”
The late W. Phillip Keller, author and world citizen, stated in one of his books that it is as if we were praying each morning, “O God, your reputation is at stake in me today. May I live in such a way as to do your person great credit. Because of my behavior, may humankind see you in me, and so honor your name because of it.”
So how do we revere and honor God’s name? First, we honor God’s name by our words! The farmer drove his team of mules to town and was late returning. “What took you so long?” asked his wife.
“On the way back,” he explained. I picked up the minister and from then on those mules didn’t understand a thing I said to them.”
Seriously, a husband who deeply loves his wife does not toss her name around shamefully or disgracefully. He respects his wife and reveres her name. So it is with God and God’s name.
Second, we honor God’s name by seeking to bring God pleasure. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis the writer continuously points out God’s pleasure over the creation process. Again and again we hear the words, “And God saw that it was good”(Genesis 1:21). To be sure, humankind is God’s crowing achievement, but the creation itself has great significance.
Thus, along with worship and witness, we can bring pleasure to God by refusing to bring havoc and trampling around in the “garden.” Instead, we can affirm our interrelatedness with God, with one another and with all creation itself.
Third, we can honor God when we honor what God honors! Simply stated, we honor God when we honor humankind. The psalmist said of humankind, “Yet You [God] have made them [mortals] a little lower than God” (psalm 9:5). It’s another way of saying that God has placed his image within each of us.
Albert Schweitzer understood this truth clearly with his “reverence for life.” He knew we honor God not so much by lighting a candle in a church as by feeding a child who is hungry.
The late minister Albert Edward Day said that he had experienced three births. The first was when his mother looked into his face and said, “My child.” The next came when he gave his heart to God and heard the Father say, “My son.” The third birth was when he could look into the face of any other human being and say, “My brother,” my sister.”
What needed births in our culture today, especially the last two. “Hallowed be your name,” Jesus said.