The Bible is filled with stories of God’s people being named and blessed by God. God gives his people a new name in order to give them a mission. Our guest speaker, Brianna Millet, teaches what it means for us to be given a new name through stories such as Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Peter.
Names are important and all of us have more than just one name. There are the names we are given at birth. The names we give to ourselves. The names Satan tries to convince us are ours. The names we try to ascribe to ourselves in a desire to fit in. Then there are the names we are given by Jesus. The names Jesus gives to us are those that declare we are a new creation; the names we ascribe to ourselves are the mud pies of names we are unwilling to let go of.
Our speaker uses some words from C.S. Lewis that best described what it is to become satisfied with a name that is unworthy of one who is in Christ. Lewis says, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
There is a biblical theme we find throughout Scripture that describes how God gives his people new names; names that are accompanied with a blessing and a mission. Abram is given the name Abraham, and is then blessed by being told he will be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:15). Likewise, Sarai was renamed by God as Sarah and promised a boy who would be heir to these nations (Gen. 17:15). Jacob wrestled with an angel throughout the night and wouldn’t relent until God gave him a blessing, which was accompanied with the new name of Israel (Gen. 32:22-32).
The significance of giving someone a new name continues in the New Testament as well. Peter is given a new name by Jesus. It is Peter that decides to relinquish his new name, after denying Christ three times. Peter makes the mistake of believing that Jesus’ love for us is a contractual agreement, rather than a covenantal loving relationship. The New Testament is filled with the new names given to us by Jesus at the cross: beloved, bride, new creation, holy, blameless, and so on and so on. As new creations we are also children of God, and as children of God we are all in this together. As brothers and sisters we are called to declare to our family members the names that Christ has given to them. The church is to work together to throw away the mud pies, so there can be more room for transformation.
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