Saturday, June 22, 2024

What is your True Name? What God Calls You

"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." 
-Revelation 2:17

What is your true name? My first thought was of Helen Keller, and how she was originally treated by her family as an invalid. But then someone came into her life, Anne Sullivan, who called her by a different name. Sullivan once said, "We imagine that we want to escape our selfish and commonplace existence, but we cling desperately to our chains." Sullivan helped Helen Keller to find purpose and hope. And she eventually became one of the great heroes of American history. But it took someone coming and calling Helen by a different name.

It reminds me of the John 5:6 when Jesus meets the man by the pool of Bethesda. He asked him first, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6). Sometimes we aren't ready for a new name yet. And we have to be encouraged to want to escape our chains.

I recall when I was fourteen or fifteen my family was convinced that there was something wrong with me. I was struggling in school and my parents were approaching a divorce. As they prescribed different medications, one after another to try to make me better, more and more I embraced the idea that there was something wrong with me. It became a new belief within me, that there was something wrong with Justin. And for the next twenty years of my life, it became a belief in me, that I needed some substance, some drug or chemical, to be OK. This manifested as medications, prescriptions, drinking, smoking, vitamins, home remedies, anything to give myself what I needed to be OK. It has taken me years, even after becoming a Christian to reset that false belief, and understand, I don't need a pill to make me right. In Christ, I am OK. God is the only one I need to be right.

I can also share the example of father Marian. Back in 2012, before I was a Christian, I had overdosed, and so many hundreds of people had looked at me with condemnation, I had begun to believe that name, that I didn't matter, that I was a nobody. But father Marian, with a single look in his eyes, of the love of Jesus, spoke a new name over me. That name was "beloved of God" and "brother in Christ." The power of that changed my life, I couldn't ignore that new name spoken over me.

The Lord Jesus has changed my name. My name is Justin which has two meanings, one is justice, the other is justified. Without Christ, I was on my way toward judgment before the throne of God. I would face the justice of God. But, because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I have been justified before God. I have peace with God. I'm royalty, adopted, beloved, and new in Him. And my future is paradise, if I'll continue to walk in this new name, a city called the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22).

"Naming" is such a powerful concept either for good or evil. In the United States sometimes it's used for good, we name a problem and then we can deal with the problem. That's why it's good to have human trafficking awareness events, we've got to name the problem and then solve it. 

But we see it happen in politics a lot, names are changed, words are flipped around, to confuse the issue. So we use clever phrases and words to mask the real issue. And then it can't be dealt with properly, until it's named properly. We also see "naming" used in the battles between the right and left in the United States. The right calls the left woke and crazy, and the left calls the right racist and extreme. The news media encourages the name calling and the false naming. And pretty soon people are convinced that they are enemies. People stop talking to each other because both parties and the news media have created dividing lines by polarizing through false naming. 

If Americans could just talk to each other, without seeing each other as enemies, we could work through this issues. But the news media and politicians demonize, demonize, demonize to the point that we fear and hate each other. There used to be so many talk shows on news media where politicians would debate policies, but less and less do we see debates. Instead people polarize, and refuse to talk to each other, and call each other hateful and bigoted and woke and crazy instead of sitting down and finding common ground.

But humanity has always had a naming problem. It goes all the way back to the garden of Eden. Satan tempted the first humans to believe a lie instead of the truth. And unfortunately they fell for the lie. And ever since then humanity constantly tries to redefine good and evil to fit our desires. 

Adam gave names to the animals (Gen 2:19). But after the fall, humans began to use that power for evil, twisting the meaning of everything to fit what we wanted, to give ourselves permission to do things that we know are wrong. 

To this day we tend to resist what God has said in His word. We can't accept it. We want to be the god. We want to rewrite reality to fit our values. But what God has spoken is true. God has the final word in naming reality, and humanity itself.

Many biblical concepts are difficult to accept. Hard realities are tough to face. But God invites us to enter into something with Him, called "wrestling." God wrestled with Jacob. And Jacob, which means "deceiver" received a new name, that new name was Israel which means, "wrestles with God." If we we enter boldly into seeking God, and wrestling with God, through this process God will help us to accept His truths and reject the lies of the enemy. And God willing, we will receive a new name in all this. A name from the throne of God, for one who has wrestled with God and accepted His truth.

When we allow Jesus in, Jesus speaks life over us and that's the most powerful naming in the universe, it erases every false name spoke in the past, and speaks the truth over us in power. We reject lies, embrace truth, and receive a new name, the true name we were always meant to carry. The name from the throne of God, calling us who we really are. But again, it's also left up to us, if we want to "get well" or stay sick. Choose life and live!