Names are important. Different people address us differently, depending on their relationship to us. We are familiar with the uncomfortable feeling it leaves when someone addresses us inappropriately.
In English Bibles, throughout the Old Testament, God is referred to as ‘The LORD’. In the New Testament, the same title is attached to Jesus. But ‘Lord’ is not a title that either God or Jesus encouraged or accepted. The title ‘Lord’ is an impostor, brought into our Bible by careless translation. The people who wrote the Bible were expressing something quite different.
At the burning bush, Moses asked God his name, and God replied, ‘I am who I am.’ Then God said, ‘Say to the Israelites, “I Am has sent me to you.”’ And in the next verse God adds, 'This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations.’ In accordance with that instruction, throughout the Hebrew scriptures, God is referred to as ‘Yahweh’ (I Am). But in almost every English translation, by the very next sentence, God’s chosen name, ‘I Am’, is replaced with ‘The LORD’. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s name has been expunged by the translators and replaced with a term from the medieval feudal system, and most English speaking Christians are not even aware of this.
The same blight affects our New Testaments. The Greek word ‘Kurios’ which was used to address Jesus, is a general term of respectful address for any man - just as English uses ‘Mister’ before a name, or ‘Sir’ in place of it. The same word is still used in Greece today, exactly as we use 'Mister' and ‘Sir’ in English. However in all English translations, instead of translating the word ‘Kurios’ to ‘Mister’ or ’Sir' it is replaced by the title, ‘Lord'.
Over centuries of Christian tradition, and through decades of our own personal experience, repeatedly addressing God and Jesus as ‘Lord’ has had a profound effect on our faith and our culture. Lordship is about superiority, ownership and control. So when we address God as ‘Lord’ we express ourselves as being inferior, owned and controlled. But this is not how God wishes to relate to us. God’s name, I Am, simply expresses his presence among us as our companion and our guide. And in Jesus God chose to live among us as our brother and our friend.
Why do we find this so hard to accept? Mostly, I believe, it is simply an engrained habit. People defend the practice by saying that the title, ‘Lord’, expresses our respect for God and Jesus. However, surely it would be more respectful to use the term of address that God himself requested. And God said, ‘Call me I Am'