What’s in a name? – Part one

We were all given a name when we were born by our parents.  They searched and discussed names until they came to an agreement of what to call you.  If you’re like me, then you’ve wondered what made your parents name you what they did.  I asked my mother many years ago the reason I’m named Laurie Denise and yet she called me Denise.  Her answer was that she named me after a singer-actress from the late 40s, Denise Lor.  The reason she didn’t name me Denise Laurie is that she didn’t like the way it sounded.  Parents have opinions about names and those influence the resulting moniker for you.  When my husband and I named our children, I remember rejecting the name he liked for our daughter because I knew someone with that name.  I didn’t consider her a very nice person and didn’t want that reminder around me.  Parents have reasons for the names they choose.  The names given to Jesus throughout the scriptures have reasons as well.  In this series we will seek to understand some of the names given to Jesus and how that should affect our lives. 

There may be some of us who have suffered teasing or ridicule from others because of our name.  Sometimes the effort to make the name of the child be unique causes others to respond with finger pointing and bullying.  You have probably suffered this yourself or know of someone who has.  I remember how in my high school the last name of one particular student became the putdown for others.  The name was used as a description of not measuring up to the crowd’s opinion.  This is hard.  It hurts.  Jesus suffered for his name.  In fact, as followers of Christ we have the privilege of suffering for the name of Jesus. 

“…they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  Then they left the presence of the counsel rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” Acts 5:40b-41

These verses are describing what Peter and the apostles were going through after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  Here’s what it teaches us.

  1. The name of Jesus is cause for joy in the midst of suffering.  Reminding ourselves of Jesus’ name and who he is can bring us joy.  It doesn’t take the suffering away but the reminder of why Jesus suffered for us will bring about joy.
  2. The name of Jesus is cause to choose right even when told to do wrong.  The apostles were told by the governing body to no longer speak the name of Jesus but they didn’t obey!  They spoke the name of Jesus and called others to follow him.  Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  This can’t be done without speaking his name. 
  3. The name of Jesus may mean we’ll have to be dishonored so that he isn’t.   The jokes, sarcasm, slander, gossip, bullying, and laughing may be things we must endure for the name of Jesus.  We know Jesus, who he is, what he’s done, and what he continues to do on our behalf.  We can persevere for his name.

“But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Acts 9:15-16

This is said to Ananias concerning Paul.  The Lord had chosen Paul to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He is our example.  We learn…

  1. We are to carry the name of Jesus.  As followers of Christ, his name is our identity.  Jesus lives through each of us as we follow him and obey his command to love.  Not only is he our identity but we are called to carry his name to others.  We wear it and we share it!
  2. We will suffer for his name.  This may not be uplifting to us because no one likes to suffer, but as we’ve seen in the previous verses, it is a privilege to suffer for him.  His name deserves honor and we are not to forsake it.

“Then Paul answered, What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart?  For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13

Paul had been pulled aside by those who loved him in order that they might convince him to protect himself and not go to Jerusalem.  They knew he would be arrested but Paul was willing to do what God had called him to do. He’s our example.

  1. We can’t always protect others from suffering.  We want to especially protect the vulnerable.  The idea of a child going to a remote part of the world to spread the gospel can be a hard one.  Suffering will most certainly be a part of a choice like that.  The name of Jesus is worth the suffering and our efforts to protect will be fruitless.
  2. We need to be willing to suffer for Christ and allow others to do so as well.  The willingness of Paul to go to Jerusalem when he knew prison awaited him was all about the name of Jesus.  He wanted to spread his name.  The suffering was not considered as something from which to run away.  It takes prayer and dependence on Christ to be willing to suffer for his name’s sake.

Our name is important to us but there is no name more important than Jesus.  His name means Savior, something we can never achieve.  Because he is Savior, we can suffer for his name with confidence.  One day, and maybe soon, this will happen,

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”  Philippians 2:10

DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM!

Have you ever been in a situation where your name is your name but it doesn’t matter to the person you’re speaking to?  It’s hard when you’re trying to convince someone that you are who you say you are, especially over the phone.  This happened to me concerning my website.  It was the fall of 2018 when my website was shut down with the message, “account suspended”.  I had no idea what this meant.  I didn’t know where to start to try and figure it out.  The name of my website is http://www.denisehardy.org so I thought that might be a good place to start.

I called the host of the domain name asking the question of why my account was suspended.  They couldn’t help me.  They asked who I was and I told them I was Denise Hardy, the website owner.  Of course, they were very sorry but I had to call the webhost.  I never knew there were so many hosts!  Another call was made to the webhost.  I explained the situation of how my account was suspended.  The reason given was that there was malware that had attached itself to the account and it was shut down until it was cleared up.  I asked about clearing it up and then they asked me for my pin number.  Then the call got interesting.

“We need your pin number to clean up the malware and get you back up and running.”

“Pin?  What pin?”

“The pin number you used when you set up the website.”

“I didn’t set up my website, someone else did it for me!”

“Well, I’m so sorry but we need the pin to continue.”

“I’m Denise Hardy!”

“Yes, but I need the pin.”

“No, you don’t understand.  I am the website.”

“I appreciate that but I’m sorry, I can’t do anything for you without the pin.”

I was left holding the phone in wonder.  Didn’t this person know who I was?  Didn’t he realize that I wrote everything on that suspended blog?  It was my thoughts and words that filled each page.  Didn’t that mean anything to him?  All of that hard work and yet my name meant nothing.

Now I’ve started over. I have my name back.  I’ve put together a new blog with the same name.  I don’t have a pin but a password that I’ll remember if I ever face “suspension” again.  My goal is to cut and paste the old blogs to my current site.  Then I’ll begin to add new ones.  It is my hope that they will be of help to others and will bring glory to God.

This was a humbling experience for me because my name, my word, or all my work meant nothing.  We put a lot of stock in who we are, our names, and what we have done.  We begin to identify ourselves by these things rather than by Christ.

The only one who will never be suspended is Christ.                                                                            “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 

As Followers of Christ, he is our identity.                                                                                                  “For me to live is Christ” Philippians 1:21a 

We have been given his righteousness.                                                                                                    “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 

This identity in Christ is for all eternity.                                                                                                        “…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23b

One day, the Book of Life will be opened and my name will be read.  The reason is because God saved me through Christ and gave me a new identity.  My name had no power, no prestige, no sway, no authority, or influence.  It is only there because the Lamb was slain for me.  He knows who I am.  He knows my name.  My eternity will never be suspended because God’s Word is sure and can’t be changed.