One feature that we all share is the fact that we have a name. One of the first things little children remember is their name. They may be puzzled about many things as they grow up, but they will never think it strange that they have a name. We equate our name with our identity. Our name is who we are.
The Bible contains some 500 references to names. The Bible is concerned with who people are. They have names, they are precious. You have a name, you are precious. God, who is omnipotent in His being, has many names. And since He is our Father we may address Him by the names as found in the Bible.
Our names are connected with our salvation. That’s why names are mentioned when we were baptized. Names are connection. In salvation, we are connected with God.
That was the pernicious thing of the Nazis: they robbed prisoners of their names and gave them numbers. Those numbers took the place of their identity; they were reduced to nothing, it was burned in their arms.
Jesus was concerned about the names of people whom He met during His life on earth. Once, when He visited the region of the Gadarenes in the far North Western part of the land, He was approached by a man “with an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:9). He yelled obscenities at Jesus. He was separated from God and from his fellow people. The first step Jesus took in healing him was the reference to his name: “What is your name? Jesus asked. And the man admitted his plight: “My name is Legion, for we are many…” He was torn up inwardly…“we are many.” His name had become tragically fragmentized. Jesus healed that man. He sat down with Jesus and his people, “in his right mind…”
One day our salvation shall have become so gloriously complete that we all deserve a new name from our Redeemer (Rev. 3:17). The challenge is clear. We must walk in such a way that our name brings honor to God’s name. And we must deal respectfully with our neighbors’ names so that their honor is safeguarded.
Here’s a little challenge for you. Write down the names of ten people you know. Then, by yourself, pray for the persons whose names you selected.