By Bruce Kessler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Names are important. Take the name given to you at birth. There is power and recognition regarding your name — who you have become, your personality, character, choices, flaws, your experience, example, authority, business and even your physical appearance.
Your name is essential. Without a name, you would have no connection, no relationship, no meaningful interaction; an unrealized uniqueness that defines who you are would be lost.
Imagine if everyone had the same name. Let’s say that universal name is You. Listen in on this three-person conversation.
“I have a question for You.”
“Oh, you mean You?
“No, You, not You, me.”
You can see by this simple illustration how a name sets us apart even in everyday conversation.
Names are even more crucial when discussing spiritual matters. Take the name Church. When Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus made this amazing announcement in Matthew 16:18: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Notice the emphasis of Jesus, “my church.” This name shows uniqueness, purpose and ownership. There is no building in church. Acts 2:47 sets the defining tone by saying “ … and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
What was a simple and beautiful Biblical name has over the years become so trivialized and amended that the defining unique characteristics have been lost. There is such eagerness to turn from inspired names of the Bible today. Nowadays, there seems to be no end to the litany of names, titles and expressions of church. We have our own ideas and they are plentiful. Just look around. I wonder if Jesus would be pleased.
George Carlin once said, “There are women named Faith, Hope, Joy and Prudence. Why not Despair, Guilt, Rage and Grief? It seems only right. ‘Tom, I’d like you to meet the girl of my dreams, Tragedy.’ These days, Trajedi.” His point is simple.
While it may be cute, names at the end of the day really do matter.
Take the time to rediscover names right out of the Bible. Why? They are inspired, and therefore, have a Godly purpose. Here are a few to study and consider: church of God (1 Cor. 1:2), churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23), disciples (Acts 20:7), saints (1 Cor. 1:2), brethren (1 Cor. 15:58), Christians (Acts 11:26), reverend (Psalms 111:9), pastor (Eph. 4:11) and Father (Matt. 23:9).
We think that the ends justify the means but caution is in order. We can rob God of ownership. We have plagiarized on grand-scale simple meaningful inspired names and refit them to meet our own selfish ambitions. We need to do what the early reformers sought — to go back to the simplicity of the scriptures and reconnect with names that originate from God, not man.
Why? Because in spiritual matters names are important to God and should matter to us. I leave you to consider these words of Martin Luther: “I pray you to leave my name alone, and call not yourselves Lutherans but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine. I have not been crucified for anyone. St. Paul would not let any call themselves after Paul, not Peter, but of Christ. How then, does it befit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of God? Cease, my dear friends, to cling to these party names and distinctions: away with all; and let us call ourselves only Christians after him from whom our doctrine comes.” The Life of Luther, by Stork, p.289.
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