Opinion—The Ten Suggestions
By Kim Clark with Adrian Powell
Editor’s note—Views expressed in the following op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of Church of God Ministries, Inc., or its affiliates. We publish op-ed features to provoke thought, stimulate healthy discussion, and inspire us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. We’ve asked to hear from a diverse range of voices across the Church of God movement. This op-ed features one of these voices.
I first met Kim Clark in the mid-1980s when I was one of the associate pastors at Hilltop Church of God in Columbus under Pastor Denny Huebner. Kim pastored what was then known as the Victorian Village Church of God (otherwise known as the West Fourth Avenue Church), which was in close proximity to the campus of Ohio State University. Kim was an outstanding young preacher, who was a gifted communicator but was dealing with an older congregation that didn’t really care for all those kids who, “Didn’t dress for church properly or know the right songs.”
He is the son of a Church of God pastor and Bible teacher at Warner Southern College (now Warner University) and was well-versed in discussions of eschatology (the study of last things or end times) from the Church of God perspective.
He was often having to deal with health issues, about which he did not shy away from discussing openly, particularly when someone who was seeking healing did not get what they wanted. A strong believer in divine healing, Kim was also aware of those who did not receive instantaneous or even gradual healing, but was aware of the faith-strengthening glory of being able to deal with hardship.
He has accumulated a great deal of wisdom over the years, wisdom which needs to be widely shared. Hence, the following are some of the witty and wise posts he has published on social media, captured for you to consider.
Kim Clark—One of the Ten Holy Suggestions implies that we should not use the name of God without purpose, at least, and certainly don’t go into abusing or misusing it.
As a long-time pastor, I didn’t really have to hear bad language that often. It wasn’t used, in general, around me and the circles I circled about in. It didn’t mean I didn’t know it, but I spent a fair amount of my lifetime cultivating a language usage that avoided it. On purpose. It all stems from that Holy Suggestion that tells us we are not supposed to use [God’s] name in vain. Other places in the Scriptures, we are encouraged to control our tongue and to not use coarse language, of course. It is a bad reflection on our heritage as children of a holy God. Something that we used to call “our witness.”
Full disclosure: I used to swear a lot as a kid before I was saved. I didn’t do it around my parents, but among friends and while playing sandlot ball and pickup games, and I was not a lily-white child as some may assume. That is one reason I needed saving. Understand it isn’t just the foul language, but it is also the dishonesty of it all. I could be a good church kid and not embarrass my parents, who were lifelong servants of the Most High. They were a part of a faith group that held to personal piety as a marker of Christian maturity. Language included. Maybe especially so. When I used the words damn and hell and so forth, I used them in proper context, the vast majority of the time.
Once I resigned the church in Sayre, in 2006, I found myself among the non-churched community, but I was working in “family” positions, places like your neighborhood supermarket and the “Golden Arches.” Now, to me, “family” meant Rated G or, at the worst, PG. I found out that for most people, “family” means anything goes and you might as well zoom past Rated R to X.
I found it a little bit wearing, to be honest. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t react. Especially when folks broke the Holy Suggestion of not using God’s name in vain. It happened a lot. I have my ways of getting my point across. I posted about Blondie and her ways of saying GEEEzus!
But then, about six-and-a-half years ago, I was hired at the hospital. And during orientation we spent a fair amount of time being told our language and attitude toward others, especially in front of patients and their family, would be professional and considerate. Oh boy, did I enjoy hearing that!
Unfortunately, a vast number of people apparently never took it to heart, nor do they understand what being considerate means.
Now, understand I am not a prude (“Oh, yes you are!” many would retort). But I do attempt to live in accordance, at least, with the guidance of those Ten Holy Suggestions. I told you all this to tell you one part of my response to a coworker who enjoyed going out of his way to say “Jesus Christ!” With all the foul language people can use, that seems like the least offensive but, in actuality, it isn’t.
We have personal communication devices. Every one of us. We can be contacted by whoever is on the system. So, I began to call this individual on my “vocera” at odd and inopportune times. It didn’t take long for him to get irritated with me when I kept calling him for no reason. I knew what I was doing, but he just got angry. I asked him why? All I was doing was calling out his name for no reason or purpose, why should that bother him? He didn’t care if he did the same thing to Jesus. As a matter of fact, he did it on purpose around me just to make me feel uncomfortable.
I made my point. It didn’t really change him much, but he did try to stop “in front of me.”
Hey, Kim, there is a terrible war going on, and you post about foul language? Are you serious?
Listen to me. Not because it is me, but because it is what God has set in motion among his people in the foundational work he shared with them uncounted years ago. He gave Moses ten rules to live by—hmmm. I kind of dislike that phrase “rules to live by.” Why? Because they are supposed to become as second nature to us as breathing and sleeping. Those Ten Suggestions—which I am aware that you know of as The Ten Commandments—give us a clear insight into how God intended us to live. He had some high expectations.
But the basic foundation is love. We blow off the Ten Commandments and think that living by their guidance steals our lives of the enjoyable things we may do in our lives. It robs us of freedom and a desire to do what we want when we want. Freedom!
Why are we at war in Ukraine? We lost touch with this pattern of love and what love does for us and for others because we would treat others “professionally.” Jesus put it this way: treat others the way in which you would like to be treated.
It is a slippery slope. From using God’s name in vain to the inhumanity of war, the pattern of being flippant to the will and direction of God is so inbred in societies for so long that we consider them inconsequential and unnecessary. That is just the opposite of reality. Reality is that ignoring and going against the Commandments of God is what breaks us and our societies.
If we followed his commandments…. Remember the first and greatest commandment is to love with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Love. Love God! And Jesus says the second is like unto it, to love. Love our neighbors as ourselves. They, according to Jesus, fulfill all the law!
If we kept the two greatest commandments, folks, there would be no more war. Period.
There would be no more abuse among husbands and wives, for husbands would love their wives as Jesus did the church and laid down his life for her.
There would be no more abuse of children, for parents would respect their children in a manner that would not drive their kids to distraction and would teach them of the love of God all the days of their lives.
There would be professional, considerate language. Everywhere for there would never be the need to feel offended and thus have to speak your mind and make your point at another’s expense.
This has been a very long one. I had the time, once I fought off my first bout of nausea—and I thought I would take the time to tie it all together that God, love, and solutions for the human condition do all come to the same place. Sorry, George Carlin, you missed the point—but then, so have so many others.
Love God. Love others. As you love yourself. Wow, how is that for a trinity? Selah.
Questions or comments? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Powell is an associate editor with Church of God Ministries and serves as senior pastor of Faith Community Church of God in Grove City, Ohio. He has been published in numerous periodicals, newspapers and blogs, and has authored two books—The Jubilee Harvest and Resident Aliens: A Living Faith in a Hostile World, available at Amazon.com.