A preacher on the radio that I enjoy listening to, harshly criticizes the “names” people use for God, such as “the man upstairs.” I understand why he says this, and it is not wrong to be uncomfortable with this. He is jealous for the name of the Lord because God is holy and should be thought of and spoken of as such. However, we must pick our battles, and analyze things to rightly discern if we should speak up or hold our tongues.
I believe in any situation, you must consider the intent. Usually the people that say this do not mean any disrespect to God. Some people are uncomfortable when speaking about God and some feel weird about using the name of God in every day speech. I am speaking of Christians and people who do believe there is a God, but have not been saved. We have no authority to judge anyone’s heart; that’s God’s job and He doesn’t need help.
Let’s be honest. I am a spirit-filled Christian who loves the Lord. I pray; I talk about God; I am not ashamed of the name of Jesus, nor of the fact that He is the only way to God the Father. However, even I have moments that I feel uncomfortable. I think it’s just part of living in the flesh with all its impurities. What I struggle with is when God reveals something to me and I am certain it is Him, I still feel strange saying, God told me or God said… Why? The only possibility that comes to mind is that I am afraid that is sounds “weird” or people will think it’s weird. For me, it’s more of an issue of physicality. What I mean is I don’t physically hear God’s voice. It is in my mind, like a thought, but I know it’s Him.
I think acknowledging God is a stepping stone on the way to real belief in God. What I mean by that is, isn’t it better to have some thoughts about God and believe He is there? The first step in coming to Jesus is believing He exists.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
So if God is “the man upstairs” to those who don’t yet understand what should and shouldn’t be said, it’s a holy foot in the door. Yes, God is holy and deserves our respect, but remember that God the Father went to incredible lengths to save us – He sent Jesus to die for our sins, don’t you think He rejoices with every step closer to the cross one of His beloved children take? Don’t you? I do.
Using this phrase to diminish God from holy to common certainly is “taking the name of the Lord in vain.” But not everyone intends offense when they say it. God looks on the heart and judges the motives and intent of all things. It is not our place to judge. If acknowledging God is being done when this is said, I say it is a good thing. Any thoughts about God can bring grace and knowledge. It’s an open door for God to come in and lead someone who is in need of saving to the cross. God forbid that any should bar the way of another to come to Jesus.