*************OMG!**************

Having only participated in social media since I retired from law enforcement almost four years ago, it took me a while to figure out what all of the commonly used acronyms were for SM. I quickly learned that there were one or two of them that I would not use no matter how popular they were. Some of the ones that I became familiar with were TTYL (Talk To You Later), SMH (Smack My Head), IDK (I Don’t Know), and ROFL (Rolling On Floor Laughing). Every community will have its well-used acronyms of choice that are part of the corporate culture. In the early days of my law enforcement career, there was a strange name that I kept reading in reports even though I didn’t at first realize it  was not a name at all (it ended up being a law enforcement acronym). I finally worked up the courage one day to ask my older partner who this ‘Fnu Lnu’ guy was. He laughed, gave me that ‘you are kidding me’ look, and told me that it was an acronym for a person whose name was unknown (First Name Unknown- Last Name Unknown). Before receiving this embarrassing revelation, I thought perhaps it was some sort of notorious repeat offender criminal- lol (another social media acronym). There was one acronym that I often ran across that seemed pretty innocuous even though I decided not to use it. Most people who are on social media are familiar with “OMG” (Oh My God or Oh My Gosh) as it is used often to register surprise in response to something that has happened or in response to something noteworthy typed by someone else.   I have always tried to be careful with using the Lord’s name in vain but as the acronym can also stand for ‘Oh My Gosh,’ then it seems to make the acronym more harmless.

However, there are circumstances when it is wholly appropriate to utter this phrase. For instance, if you hear of a loved one dying suddenly, using the phrase “Oh My God” would be wholly appropriate and not an example of using the Lord’s name in vain as you are truly addressing God with the reception of the bad news. Learning of a natural disaster where there is a massive loss of life would be another proper use of the phrase ‘Oh my God’ as one’s thoughts are turned towards the victims of a surprising and unforeseen cataclysm. It can be a short prayer of sorts being uttered on behalf of those who are in the midst of harrowing circumstances.

Recently, a group that I have had the pleasure of sharing with was going over the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament. After spending a number of meetings going over the different forms of evidence that support the authenticity of the New Testament, to include the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the block of lessons finally ended. As I was reflecting back over this strong evidence that supports the New Testament, it hit me anew that if this collection of books and letters is really true, then there are radical consequences for us today as individuals and also as a culture. These radical consequences were realized by one of Jesus’s disciples. Thomas, one of the first skeptics to the report that Jesus had arisen, was convinced of the reality of the risen Jesus after he looked the post-resurrection Jesus in the eye, heard him speak, observed and maybe even felt the spear wound that had been inflicted on Jesus. In response to this most surprising encounter with the risen Jesus, Thomas quickly proclaimed ‘My Lord and my God’ as Thomas began to realize the implications of what he just experienced. Yes, in essence, Thomas was saying “OMG!” The life of Thomas was inalterably changed, he went to India as a witness to this risen Jesus Christ, and was eventually martyred as evidenced by what Christian tradition tells us about the end of his life. Indian Christian tradition tells us that Thomas went to India proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and eventually died as a result of this declaration.[1]

photo by Westsara 11 May 2015

Although today we cannot see the physical body of Jesus Christ today as Thomas did, we still can proclaim “OMG!” after realizing the implications that come from the fact that Jesus Christ actually arose from the dead. When we read his words in the Gospel accounts and in Acts, we are reading the very words of the risen Jesus Christ. When heeded, these words have transformed the lives of individuals and cultures. Not only do we have evidence that tells us that we are reading the very words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel accounts, but we also have the words themselves that are like no other words that have ever been spoken/written. Even though his recorded spoken words were only few in number, they are like a high candlepower spotlight that rids every shadow from its beam. These words were not only a radical departure from the prevailing pagan culture of his time, but these illuminative words still probe the souls of all men and women today. Surely these radically potent words that have transformed countless lives have to be the words of God. Even though I was not with Thomas when he made his well-known proclamation of belief, I look at the words of Jesus that we have today and say “OMG!,” these have to be the words of God.

Within our cultural milieu, there are telltale signs of a society that is in crisis. STDs are alarmingly on the rise and numbing ourselves with drugs is now more than ever an acceptable form of recreation. Emergency rooms are filling up with those who are overdosing on opioids and also addicts seeking out painkillers. Our youngest generation is awash in pornography crippling their ability to experience healthy intimacy and warping their view of the opposite sex. I look at our crumbling society and pray “OMG, we need you more than ever, please help us.”

Yet if we would pay attention to these precious few words that Jesus Christ spoke, we could transform individual lives and culture today. The irony is the way of the cross, with its emphasis on God and others, brings ultimate contentment and fulfillment in every aspect of life. Jesus Christ said that he came that we all might have life to the full. He also tells us to take up our crosses daily. How can I have a life characterized by contentment if I am not concentrating on satiating my own desires? Again, herein lies the irony that confronts those absorbed by the prurient influences of modern life in the U.S. and the West. In that they never consider the way of the cross, many will never realize a holistic contentment that emanates from a life unconcerned with the garnering of more things and sensual experiences. In the next several blog posts, let’s look at some of these profound words that still reverberate like an aftershock of an earthquake from a time period far removed; words from God to all of us. In my estimation, they have to be God’s words to all of us.

[1] McDowell, S.J. 2014. A historical evaluation of the evidence for the death of the apostles as martyrs for their faith. Louisville: SBTS. (Dissertation-PhD) pp. 268-269.

Photo by Benson Kua from Toronto, Canada