What’s in a name?
Who are we? Why are we associated by a name given to us? If our name was different, would we be viewed differently?
When I was born, I was given the name of Kimberly Sue. When I was adopted, my name was changed to Andrea June. When I got adopted the second time, they too changed my name, but to Kari Ellen. So, who am I?
Though I have had many names, my personal identity is also based on the kind of person I am. I am more known by how I look or how I act than just by my name. At my current part-time job, I don’t wear a name tag, so most of my customers don’t know my name, but they do know that I treat them well by greeting them, serving them quickly, and by being honest and fair. So for them, they know me more for how I am and what I look like. For those that do know my name, there is a deeper relationship: a friendship has formed.
Most people don’t know our names, yet they can get a glimpse of who we are by a first impression or a brief conversation. The more we spend time with someone, the better we can get to know them. We know their name, their history, their likes and dislikes, and whether or not we can trust them.
We tend to remember feelings that surround names too. If you knew someone with the name of Greg and they were a schoolyard bully, then its unlikely that you would name your baby boy Greg. On the other hand, if someone had a childhood crush on their beautiful babysitter Hannah, then her name would stir up emotions of young love and innocence. As a result, names can hold a significant power over us, but they do not always reflect the truth.
Consider this about God: Man has not seen God, so we do not know what He looks like. Therefore we cannot know him by sight or determine who He is by features or expressions. What we can know is who He says He is:
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.”
“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”
The Lord told us who He is: The Lord, who is God of the Israelite fathers. To remember what He had done for each one of them is to remember who He is. He is their God because He chose them, and because He did remarkable things for them and through them. For that reason, His name is to be remembered, feared and cherished. God’s name is known for what He has done: spoken, created, loved, forgiven, spared, disciplined, saved, led, foretold. In Jesus, He also healed, taught, proclaimed, died and resurrected. No one else can claim this name and all that the Lord has done.
Jesus said, “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
(He never called himself “Allah”.)
I know who my Lord Jesus is for the name given to Him by God the Father, for what He did for man at the cross, and for how He has redeemed me. I know who the Lord is through our conversations, his Word, and by seeing what He has done for me and through me. I feel his presence every day through the Holy Spirit. He draws me to Himself each morning by the witness of the sunrise. His breath of life keeps me going. I know who He is because He, the Lord God, is my best friend.
“Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
I pray that you KNOW who He is too: by his name, by his character, and by his actions of perfect love.
It all boils down to: What are you known for? Who are you?
Food for thought: Jesus’ name (Yeshua) means “deliverer, savior, rescuer”.
Further thought: The majority of those that saw and heard Jesus, knew his name. Yet, they did not accept him as their Lord. So, just knowing his name is not enough. That does not constitute a relationship. Take time to talk to the Lord. This will begin a real, personal relationship with The God, and He will fulfill his name by delivering you, by becoming your Savior.
Fun facts: In the U.S., the most popular boy’s name in the last 100 years is….James, and the most popular girl’s name is…. Mary.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – General Sherman