The second expression in the Lord’s Prayer concerns hallowing God’s very name. Telford Work approaches this petition, in his book Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, from a singular and interesting angle: How can God put up with the slander, with the nonsense from Christians and the hybris of those not his people?
Ever wonder about this? I have. Let us say that Jesus really does want us, and everyone on Planet Earth, to reverence God and hallow his very Name … if so, why does God go so long without acting?
Generations of said silly things about God: “God is apparently content for generations to come and go without correction” (29). “How can God tolerate the blasphemies of all the bigots, crusaders, jihadists, terrorists, triumphalists, skeptics, boosters, and consumerists who speak for him?” “When will he shut us up?”
It can feel for us at times like “loyalty to a losing team or membership in a party always out of office” (31 — hey, Telly, your comment about the Cubs wounds me).
The reaction to the quest for holiness has been dualism — making God completely outside us — or monism — making God one of us. Nor does the so-called “analogy of being” help. The Church tells a different story of holiness — and here he proposes something worthy of serious discussion. He defines holiness anew:
“holiness celebrates the otherness of the specific relationships that have bridged difference, incompatiblity, distance, and opposition” (36). Holiness is the story of relationships. It is, in other words, relational otherness that nonetheless makes connection.
Holiness is not a matter of degree; something is either holy or profane.
“God’s great reputation follows from God’s holiness, not the other way around” (40). Jesus’ life displays holiness to the Father, among his own, and for his enemies.
“In the Lord’s Prayer and on the cross the Son exalts the Father in the Spirit, calling him holy. At Jesus’ conception, resurrection, and ascension the Father exalts the Son with the Spirit, calling him holy. In his warning against unforgiven sin and his high priestly prayer the Son exalts the Spirit from the Father, calling him holy. … ” (44).
And finally: “God’s reputation may be in tatters today among the nations and even among his own people, but God’s reputation is eternally secure among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that is what really matters. These three God’s true biographers; we are merely their publicists” (45).