The Word ‘Awesome’

First off, thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog.  It started as a simple desire to write and share my thoughts with others, with the hope that we can all grow together as Christians.  I can see statistics on the number of people who read, like, and comment on each post, and it is a great encouragement to me.  Many of you who read these have known me for some time.  However, there have been people all over the world reading the blog, which is mind-blowing to me.  Thank you!

Today’s post is one I actually hope will draw some discussion, and I’m writing it with that hope in mind.  I want to know your thoughts on this.  Do you see benefit in this?  Are we out in left field?  Do you have other ideas for something similar?

Before you read any further, let me start by saying that what I’m about to share is simply a personal conviction that our family has taken.  We do not hold anyone else to this, and we would never look down on someone who does not agree with us or hold to this same idea.  However, it is something that I believe has helped our family, and I want to share it with you.

Here goes.  For our family of five, you will rarely hear us say the word awesome.  That is not an accident.  If you knew me growing up, you would know that the word awesome was very much a part of my vocabulary.  I never thought anything about it.  It was just a word that meant something was really cool or exciting.

However, about 5-6 years ago, we had a discussion in our Bible class where we worship.  I don’t remember the details of the class or even what the class was centered around.  However, there is one very specific part of that class that I remember well and will never forget.  It was a discussion of the word awesome.  We looked at the meaning of the word and at it’s core what it really signified.

At the root of the word awesome is the word awe.  According to Dictionary.com, the word awe means “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.”  When looking at each of the words of that definition individually, what above all else should we revere?  What above all else should be admired?  What above all else should we fear?  What or Who is grand, sublime, and extremely powerful.  That answer is clear: it is God!

I believe this part is where some may not agree with us, and that’s OK.  To our family, based on that definition, indicating that you are in awe of something is another way of saying that you believe that item is worthy of your worship.  Like the dictionary says, it’s something that brings an overwhelming feeling of reverence and admiration.  Therefore, we feel that we should only be in awe of God.  Just like Jesus answered Satan when He was being tempted, “For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

Now to the word awesome.  That is basically another way of saying that something leaves you in awe.  If I say that God is awesome, that means that God leaves me in awe.  That is a very true statement.  However, if I say that the football game was awesome, I am also saying that the game left me in awe.  According to the definition of the word, that means the game left me with an overwhelming feeling of reverence and admiration, and that’s likely not true.

Before you throw things at me, I understand that the meaning of words can be changed by society.  I know that people don’t like that sometimes, but that’s the way society goes.  I highly doubt that the concept of worship even crosses your mind when you say the word awesome.  It never did for me growing up, either.  Honestly, I had to train myself to think that way.  So, you may ask, why even do that?  Why take away a word from your vocabulary that society sees nothing wrong with?  Believe it or not, it has helped our family in more ways than you can imagine.

  1. Our family now has a way to describe God and His creation, without using the same words we would describe a good movie.  To us, God is awesome and nothing else.  That word is reserved only for Him
  2. Here’s the big one: this has been a HUGE teaching tool for our children.

Our kids are 8, 6, and 5 years old.  When we first decided to stop using the word awesome in our normal vocabulary (and this was a conscious decision my wife and I made), I know we had two kids.  Honestly, I don’t quite remember if the youngest had been born yet or not.  However, they were all young enough that they don’t remember anything from that age.  That means for as far back as they can remember, we have taught them that only God is awesome.  If we heard someone in public say that something was awesome, we would lean over and whisper to them, “That’s not really awesome, but Who is awesome?”  They would respond with, “God is awesome.”  For a while, they used to think people were saying a bad word when they said awesome.  At times, one of the kids might lean over and go, “Daddy…that person said awesome, but that’s not awesome.  Only God is awesome.”  I would smile like a proud father.

Without really meaning to, we taught our children the concept of idolatry.  They understand that God is to be held to a much higher level than the normal, everyday things that we encounter.  God is awesome, and only God is awesome.  Nothing else, and no one else, can ever even come close to that level.

Now that our kids are a little older, we have explained to them the reason for our conviction.  We have told them that there is actually nothing wrong with the word awesome, so they are never to correct someone if they hear it used in a conversation.  We have also taught them to never think bad of someone who says it.  As they continue to grow and be around their friends more, they may start using it as part of their normal conversations.  If they do, that’s OK.  I probably won’t correct them.  However, we pray that they have learned something.  No matter how great their friend is, no matter how fun the game was, and no matter how cool their new bike is, God is on a pedestal.  He is truly AWESOME!

What do you think?  Do you think we are nuts?  Have you done something similar with your children that has helped teach them a valuable lesson?  If so, please share.

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