What’s in a Name?
September 12, 2022
What’s in a Name
Someone said, “Just because you wave the flag doesn’t mean you’re a patriot.” Likewise, someone might say they are a Christian, own a Bible, and even attend church once in a while. That doesn’t mean all that much either. We might think of ourselves as patriots but our actions or inaction betrays our hypocrisy. Likewise, people who appear to be Christians are merely playing dress-up. Anyone can seem to be sincere or truly be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong. Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”
As children, we play at being different characters in pretend worlds. That’s easy to see. But when we become grown-ups it is not so easy. Computers have taken this play-acting to a whole new level and adults can continue to remain in imaginary worlds forever.
In a more specific way, we might find ourselves doing things like our parents did — a facial expression, the way they socialized, one of their sayings, anything. Once in a while Patty says, “You look just like your Dad when you do that.” Yet, in many ways, I am not at all like my Dad. I do not plan ahead, for example. Otherwise, I would have moved out of this high maintenance house to a ranch house made of brick a long time ago. I should have seen, like he did, that one day I would be physically unable to do the necessary upkeep.
Sometimes we act like we know what we’re doing, but sooner or later reality slaps us — not on our backs, but smack dab across our faces. At least that is true for me.
John Lennon had the song “Imagine.” It’s too late, of course, to ask him, but I’ve always thought that he was not stating his theological beliefs but the philosophical stance of an activist.
A woman said something on a News documentary program that I think may be relevant. She said something like, “If we claim God is on our side, we can do just about anything and get away with it.” Likewise we think that waving the flag justifies aberrant actions. So, in somewhat the same manner, we need to see what justifies the need for our actions, how we treat one another, how we protect our environment, and so on. Are we being honest at least with our selves? Are we truly reflecting our intimate responsibility in living our life? Mr. Lennon was an activist, right? So, I believe we cannot live like or think like when we were children.
Unfortunately, American culture presents too many opportunities to evade this Biblical truism: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” — 1 Corinthians 13:10–11, NIV. Except for the subculture of the working poor, farmers, and the such folk who cannot escape the harsh realities of the real world, we live a comfy, cozy life. Living large means not having to think very much.
Presumption has consequences. Hypocrisy has a final act where every actor must leave the stage. Broadway goes dark. There comes the slap smack dab across our faces. The play date is over.
Despite all that, there is God. There is Heaven. There is this person named Jesus. So what’s the real deal? What does it all mean? I think if the question is answered there may be clues. After all, what is in a name?
Our names are important. That’s a big part of how we identify ourselves and how we think of ourselves.
Religious leaders in the Old Testament decided at some point that the Name of the Lord was too holy to be spoken and made a rule not to. The first thing I thought when I heard that was, “Then, how is anybody going to be able to call on the name of the Lord?”
Look, my New Testament reading has this promise: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Romans 10:13, NIV. Every major character in the Old Testament talked to God and also heard from God.
Personal relationships develop based on introducing by names. My Bible also quotes the disciple/apostle Peter saying “…It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:10–12, NIV.
So, I must conclude, over and above my past argument, that words matter, names matter even more.
Here are some names highlighting the attributes of God of the Bible from the Old Testament: (Resource — https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible)
- One who sees me
- Always present
- My Banner
- My Peace
- My Shepherd
Those names are from people who encountered God in their very real lives. Yet, there are other names from the New Testament. In fact, there are so many I cannot list them here in any practical way. These are names attributed to Jesus of Nazareth. There are lists online if you so desire, and you can search at your own pace for the names associated with Jesus. Here is one Bible verse, and it is a promise from several hundred years before the Bethlehem story unfolds:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” — Isaiah 9:6–7, NIV.
So, I say we all need to grow up. We all need to get real. Forget all the glitzy distractions. We all have a choice to make: What will we call God?
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Romans 10:13, NIV.
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” — Philippians 2:10–11, NIV
Not only what should we call God, but shouldn’t we actually call Him? And may I suggest using the name “Jesus” — you know, the person who died to save you and me.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12, NIV