Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's In A Name?

Nice / Pleasant / Thoughtful / Considerate / Honest / Trustworthy / Hard- working / Fun / Encouraging / Friendly / Generous / Forgiving /Positive...Mean / Unpleasant / Forgetful / Inconsiderate / Liar / Gossip / Lazy / Difficult / Unkind / Selfish / Self-absorbed / Stingy / Unforgiving / Negative.
Christian / Prays / Believes the Bible / Full of Hope / Lives life as though God is the answer to everything /Naive / Foolish / Delusional / Out of touch / Inconsistent / Hateful / Prejudice /Hypocrite....Lost / Unsaved / Evil / Beyond Reach / Closed -minded / Sinner / Rejected... 
Have you noticed how people (even you and me) tend to instantly label (name) other people? I find that this happen a lot with people we don’t know very well or have just met. It is also something that is done to us! This “name calling” isn’t limited to people who don’t know each other very well... we actually add even more “names” to the people we know best. Like it or not... we will always have people who both know us well and don’t know us at all... give us new names. 
As Christians we understand by God’s Word that the world will not understand our ways. In fact we have examples in the Bible of how some pagan rulers did their own version of “name calling” by attempting to change the names of God’s devoted followers. In Genesis 41:45 we learn that Pharaoh “renamed” Joseph, Zaphenath-Paneah. Giving Joseph this Egyptian name was probably meant to entice him into the Egyptian culture and to sooth the ego of this Ruler who may have been uncomfortable with placing a foreigner and former slave in charge of all of Egypt, second only to himself. This new name is mentioned... but the biblical writer is careful to ignore the name thereafter. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would later attempt in much the same way to conform Daniel and His friends to Babylon culture (See Daniel 1:7). The efforts of these Rulers fell short of success in both cases.
Today Christians are pressured to conform to the world as the world attempts to “rename” us too. We are in a constant battle as the world ~ even those with kind intentions ~ attempt to mold us into the image of the world’s culture. Like Joseph, who could not control what other people called him, but remained faithful and dependent on God, we too can keep from adopting what the world says is common and acceptable and remain faithful to God’s teachings.
 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” ~John 15:19
Joseph’s new name was intended to make him “blend in”...unfortunately... the “new” names we as Christians today are labeled with are not usually given to “adopt” us or draw us into closer ties with the world but are given to isolate and disclaim us. How we respond...or rather not respond to these names is vital to our witness of who we are in Christ. The names placed on us that the world gives to Christians should not affect our actions. Whether these names are given to flatter us or insult us, we can choose to ignore the world’s names and rejoice in the fact that God has adopted us and knows our real name...our true identity is found in Him alone. 
Fruit of the Spirit ~ Kind, Faithful, Gentle, Self-Controlled, Loves, Joy-Filled, Patient, Full of Peace.
The sound of some names we are called just sound good...and right to our ears... but the most pleasing sound to my ears will be the sound of Jesus’ voice when he calls me by name and leads me home.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. ~ John 10:3 (Bold emphasis is mine)

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