Why do people take God so lightly? 

His name rolls of their tongue in a curse. The "OMG" phrase fills the air when somebody wins the jackpot, but He is a million miles from the thoughts being expressed. He is not being thanked, for there is no sense that the win was due to anything other than cold chance. Perhaps even more worrying, the same phrase fills the blank spaces in empty conversations about nothing in particular. Words like stocking stuffers, the air bulging with sounds without value or meaning.

Surely the commandment to not take God’s name in vain is shattered every second, and that without a second thought. At least people still stop to think about whether adultery or stealing is wrong, even if their consciences have become flabby from lack of exercise. But what of the little three lettered word that refers to the greatest reality in the universe? Its flippant incessant repetition reflects the featherweight view of the God who is taken so lightly.

But how can people think so lightly of God? The Bible accurately diagnoses the problem: "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18). John Calvin fleshes that out for us. He answers the dilemma by pointing out that people "would never dare so to trifle with God had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits" (Institutes: Book 1, Chapter 4; Section 3).

Most people believe in God, but it is a god they can take lightly because he is made of featherweight notions in the figments of their imagination. As Paul put it, they do “not know God [when they are] enslaved to those that by nature are not gods” (Galatians 4:8). Enslaved to lightweight gods of their own making, gods that can be treated lightly, gods whose words carry no weight. But, tragically, featherweight gods who are powerless to lift a finger to save.

Perhaps the lottery winner who exclaims “OMG” really is addressing his personal deity (“my god”) – a god who in that moment bears a striking resemblance to Lady Luck. A god who has nothing to say and who places no demands on her followers, for she herself is enslaved in randomness. Such a god must be taken lightly for she has no power.

You can tell who truly knows God by the way they give weight to who he is and what he says. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7) – the starting point for knowing God. If there is no fear of God, we may be sure that the God they think they know is not really God: "my god", maybe, but not God.

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