“God told me…” Some of the most dangerous words in the world. I’m not going into detail, but several of the greatest atrocities in history have occurred through justification by this phrase. It’s the Jedi mind trick of religion. There’s nothing you can say in response to that. It’s because of this, I cringe every time I hear it invoked. However, it doesn’t have to be so dangerous.

This is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Parading around committing acts of hate against others under the guise of God’s leadership is the worst thing we can do for His cause. Rather than showing them the face of God, we reveal to them a god of hate, malice, bigotry and inequity. Instead of putting out the flame of mistrust toward our faith, it is fanned anew. In the place of love and beauty, hate and ugliness are eschewed; surely this is not our God.

“And when [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” — Luke 5:4–6

Jesus will ask crazy stuff of us. Jesus’ statement challenged Simon’s understanding of his world. He was a fisher who had just returned empty handed from a long night on the water. They were just getting in as he was washing his net and he must have been tired. Yet, this carpenter tells a fisherman to go back on the water. This is the very same water that had yielded nothing just then. Simon wasn’t exactly starving it seems, so he wasn’t the worst fisherman on the planet and knew what he was doing. Yet, Jesus turns to Simon asking if he will trust Him to know more about Simon’s livelihood than Simon does. Simon realized what Jesus was asking didn’t make sense, but it wouldn’t kill anyone, so he went along with it.

The call of Jesus never contradicts the words of Jesus. This is very important here. Before we invoke the highest authority in our burning of x, y or z, we need to take a minute to verify what we think we hear with the words that God has always been saying. While we will be challenged to do things that don’t make complete sense to us, God will never ask us to do things that contradict the Word. And for those wishing to evoke images of Sodom and Gomorrah, Christ came so God didn’t have to resort to that anymore (depending on your armageddon beliefs).

“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’” — John 6:60–69

“…To whom shall we go?” One of my favorite phrases in the Bible illustrates what should be our reaction to hardship and confusion. Jesus had just gave a hard message to people who simply weren’t getting it and whom He knew would not get it at least then and many of them left. Even the disciples were visibly perplexed, but rather than walk away like the masses, they stayed to verify their understanding with the Word. They sought the Truth rather than looking for another master with a less confrontational message. They checked their facts.

If I a Christian cringe at the invocation of God’s name most of the time, how can we expect non-Christians to react? There have been many events in the past, both distant and recent, that have tarnished the name of God, but this doesn’t have to always be. God is speaking to you, that’s a fact. However, when you hear it, verify with His truth what you are hearing is Him and not what you would like to hear. Let’s be responsible when we say, “God told me…”