Hey guys…its hot…it June…there is nothing to hunt…thinking about hunting makes me hotter, so I’m taking a break from the ‘ole hunting theme for a bit. Besides, I’m having a hard time finding parallels between throwing out the endless supply of hunting magazines and living the Christian life. The summer months always seem to find me traveling somewhere to build something. Along the way, I’m treated to some of the finest roads taxes can buy. The scenery around the midwest is…well…consistent. Therefore, I find myself watching for clever bumper stickers and window decals. Personal favorites from years past were the assortment of “Grateful Dead” decals…mainly because, even though I didn’t know what they meant, my brain still thought it looked cool. The explanation from my non-hippie parents still didn’t help my understanding of the “Grateful Dead” sticker.
I always smirked a bit at the “My kid is an Honor Student” sticker…until I saw the “My kid can beat up your Honor Student” sticker, then I laughed out loud. For a while there was a whole lot of “Bad Boy Surfing” window decals out there, usually on the big 4×4’s. I’ve been down almost every “non-dirt” road in Kansas, and I’ve never found the beach where the “Bad Boys” employ their surfing techniques. Again, maybe like the Grateful Dead, this sticker means more than just a band…or just a fun sport. My all-time favorite bumper sticker said “SKEPTIC”…didn’t need to ask my parents about that one…that one came in loud and clear.
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” Philippians 2:9
What does this mean to us? Are the names given to Jesus important? I mean, obviously if His name was somehow changed to Earl…it would seem a little weird. I get that, but I guess I’m asking if there is something more to it. I must confess…as I write this, I hear Chris Tomlin in my head pounding out the lyrics, “their is power in His name”. So…what’s in a name…where is the power?
My research indicates that the people of the Bible were very conscious about the meaning of names. They thought a connection existed between the name and nature of a person. For instance, the name Elisha means “God is salvation”…the name Daniel means “God is my judge”…the name Moses means “drawn out”…and so forth. I can’t help but think about the name God used for Himself, “I AM WHO I AM”. Which is a description of His character…somewhat…with are feeble minds we can almost see it. Later on in the book of Exodus, after Moses broke the stone tablets, God again describes Himself….
Now the Lord said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.” So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:1-7
In other words….I AM WHO I AM…I can’t explain ME…I AM GOD. (and the chorus plays….”their is power in His name”)
The name of the Most High God becomes synonymous with His nature…and His presence. Remember, we are talking about the Almighty God who takes adjectives and makes them nouns…Majesty, Power, Love are all nouns which are His very nature…to know His Love is to feel His presence…to tremble at His Power is to feel His presence…to bow in reverence to His Majesty is to feel His presence. Psalm 75:1 says, “We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks, For Your name is near; Men declare Your wondrous works.”….and….Psalm 91:14, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.” In the first verse from Psalm 75, the men are telling “Wow God” stories because of the nearness of His name and presence…while the verse in Psalm 91 is from the perspective of God. He (meaning God) assures the faithful because we have loved Him and known His name…known His nature…known His presence.
The New Testament writers also emphasized the importance and power in names. Listen again, to how the writer of Acts lays it down for us in Chapter 4 verse 12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” That is power…that is presence…that is nature…that is adjectives becoming nouns again. Jesus had so many names, and meanings to His birth name, that it would take a book to adequately explain all of them (um…I just had a light bulb of an idea go off in my head about that book…).
Some of my favorite names for Jesus:
-Immanuel….”God with us”
-Savior…”well, you know…Savior”
-Son of God…”the relationship with the Almighty”
-Son of Man…”the relationship with all of mankind”
-Son of David…”the lineage which answers prophecy”
What about us…?
Are our names important? Does it matter that my name is John, or your name is Bob…or Jeff…or Scott (or even Amy)? Does it matter? Honestly…I don’t think it does. Our culture has lost this need to name our little ones based on our hopes and presumptions as parents. Instead of our birth names defining our choices, the names we give ourselves often define our choices for others. How we describe our self…describes our nature. When I see a “K-State Only Parking” sign in your drive way and a “Willie Wildcat” sticker in your car window…I get a clear picture that if I knock on the door you will answer it wearing “purple” something. What does this say about your nature? OK…OK…I can feel the bristle from here. Before you write me hate mail…hear me out. The sign in your driveway, and on your car means nothing about nothing if your focus is on the Kingdom of God. Wear whatever jersey you want and PRAY…use your big foam finger as a pad for your seat while you read the book of Ephesians. My point is…can others tell your true nature…by the “name” you have given yourself?
Are we followers of Christ…or acceptors of Christ?
Big difference between these two. A follower understands he is following…and therefore not in control. An acceptor understands they have accepted something as true…and that’s it. Listen…I can accept broccoli is good for me, but I’m not going to eat it. Then again…I don’t think there is a cheeseburger in town I haven’t tried. Following gives the connotation of “all in”…accepting gives the idea of “acquiesce”. What’s in a name…? Everything…our identity…our nature…our presence…are all tied to our name…the name we give ourselves when we describe our self. Listen to Paul in 2 Timothy 2:19, Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “ The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “ Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
Paul describes Christians as naming the name of the Lord…being in His presence…feeling all those adjectives become nouns…and obeying His word. Sounds and awful lot like following to me. Do not be mistaken for an “acceptor”…and keep singing the chorus, “their is power in His name”.