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What’s In A Name?

by Robert Berendt
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
 

I remember when my father would tell me about his family, and the dignity and pride that he reflected. His reminisces reminded me of a poem written by Edgar A. Guest entitled, “Your Name”. Here are two verses from that poem.

You got it from your father. Twas the best he had to give,
And right gladly he bestowed it - it is yours the
while you live.
You may lose the watch he gave you and
another you may claim,
But remember, when you're tempted, to be
careful of his name.
It was fair the day you got it and a worthy
name to wear.
When he took it from his father, there was no
dishonour there;
Through the years he proudly wore it, to his
father he was true,
And that name was clean and spotless when he passed it on to you.

I remember an incident when I was 16 years old. I was allowed to use the family car to go to a dance in another town. My father trusted me and I tried to keep that trust. Through a series of problems I was not able to come home until the next morning. Even worse, we had no telephone so I could not let anyone know about the delay.

That night, after the dance, my friends and I rode around in the car, singing our favourite songs before I drove them all home. Tire problems and poor planning caused us to drop off the last girl early in the morning, after her father had already left for work.

We were pretty nervous and when I returned home with the car, my father was up and waiting for me. I told him about the tire trouble and having to drive one boy about 30 miles. I was very concerned that he would ground me – and I deserved to be grounded for the worry I must have caused him. You can imagine my immediate sputtering explanation when he informed me that the girl’s father had already stopped by our house on his way to work to inquire about his daughter, who had told her dad she would be with us that night. My father waited a moment and then said: “Son, I told Louie that if his daughter was with my son, she would come to no harm and he need not worry.” Forty-eight years have passed since that morning, but I still get a little choked up thinking he trusted me so. I tried never to let him down in that trust. I carried my father’s name! I realized that his reputation and the whole reputation of the family also rested on the shoulders of each of his six children – me included. We children were not perfect, but each one of felt the responsibility of being a member of the family.

I am continually impressed with the marvelous way in which human life was designed. Our Creator, who is known as our Heavenly Father, created us to need up to 25 years to fully mature and we are to be part of a family during that time (being part of the family does not end when maturity is reached). We learn great lessons of life, none greater than the one about the responsibilities we carry. We are to learn to honour our parents and through that to honour our Heavenly Parent. There is a reason Christ expressed God as the Father. It signifies family.

We read in the scriptures that God the Father calls and chooses His people at this time (John 6:44). There is joy in heaven when one sinner repents (Luke 15:7). God the Father is the author and finisher of our faith through Christ (Hebrews 12:2). We are to become holy and without blame before Him (Ephesians 1:4). God the Father is directly involved in our salvation. It is He who writes your name in His Book of Life. All the heavenly angels are witnesses to this momentous event! God the Father has taken upon Himself the responsibility for your eternal life or death.

That ought to show us how vital is it that we honour our Father. Revelation 22:4 states: “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” God's reputation – all that He stands for and is – becomes the responsibility of His children. Jesus Christ glorified His Father and we, too, are to glorify Him.

God the Father was able to proclaim that Jesus “is My Son in whom I am well pleased.” All the angels in heaven worshiped Christ and stood in awe of what He had accomplished. God was also able to identify Job as a man who would never curse His name (Job 1:11, 21, Job 2:9,10). We can see that it was not only a curse from the lips that is implied, but to embarrass God before all the angels and the demon world. God trusted Job to uphold God’s reputation. God also called Abraham His friend (James 2:23); Moses was spoken to as a friend (Exodus 33:11); David was a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14), and Jesus Christ called His disciples friends (John 15:15).

Being called and chosen is a great honour and responsibility. It means that the blood of Christ has been applied to our sins through baptism. It means God has reached out His hand to help us climb the mountain that life inevitably gives to all who would follow Christ. God has placed His name (reputation) on the calling of humans. It is “in His name” and “for His name” that all things are done. In John 17:6-12, Jesus prays that we should be kept through the Father’s name.

Humans are known by angels and demons as the chosen ones of God. They are His chosen vessels, jewels, holy nation and all the other adjectives that describe those in whom God has begun the work of redemption. God puts all that He is on the line for His children. In that way, we as parents can clearly identify with God. We too bear the glory or shame of our children.

We are ever hopeful towards our children. We are supportive and there to help, yet we know they must learn to stand on their own two feet and make the correct and appropriate choices in their lives. We are to teach by word and example. Jesus Christ did this for us. He was the express image of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3).

There is no greater honour roll that a human can be named upon, than to have God call him or her at this time. The Book of Life was started from the foundation of this earth (Ephesians 1:4). The first name entered may have been Abel, and a more recent name may have been yours. When one reads the words of God it is too much at times. Our minds simply develop a circuit break because of the tremendous import that it carries. In Revelation 3:12 we read: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Many will disagree with the destiny of humans because of the enormity that is implied.

It is enough to know that we do have a responsibility to carry, and that God gives us all the help we need. The load is light and a joy when rightly understood. We need not walk in fear and trepidation, but rather in confidence and boldness due to His intervention.

Carry that honour in an appropriate manner. Being called a Christian places some responsibility on us all. Our Heavenly Father believes in us, and He and His Son live in us through His Holy Spirit. It is because of the forgiving and healing sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we can believe in ourselves. It is vital to know who you are. The choices you make in life will be reflected in that concept. What is in a name? In the case of sons of God - much more than we realize.

Glorify your Father in Heaven and in due time, He will glorify you (Romans 8:30).

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