What’s in a Name?

There are people who claim that names are not really important. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” a Shakespeare line from Romeo and Juliet, is often quoted to point out that what you call something does not affect its real identity. However, if that is the case, why are courts clogged with slander and libel lawsuits? Why does a person get upset when they are called a “bad” name? Call someone a prostitute, a liar or a thief and see what kind of reception you get! Names matter, and in spite of cute sayings like, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but names will never harm me,” the name assigned to something or someone makes a difference.

What is essential to followers of God is not that names do or do not make a difference to us but that names make a difference to God. For instance, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, He changed Jacob’s name to Israel and He changed Simon’s name to Cephas (Greek-petros or Peter)? If names are important to God, in spiritual matters, that’s all that matters!

If we are to be God’s children and God designates a name through His revelation that He prefers, any other name is unacceptable and unauthorized. When God chose the Levites to be priests, by naming that tribe God excluded all other tribes (Hebrews 7:14); even calling a Benjamite a Levite would not do. Therefore, when Isaiah, by inspiration, predicted the fact that followers of God would wear a new name (Isaiah 62:2), it becomes important to know and wear that name, and only that name.

Christian is the name by which the New Testament disciples were called (Acts 11:26), it was the name for which they suffered (1 Peter 4:16) and it is the only name to which a child of God would attempt to convert a person (Acts 26:28). It is the only authorized name by which those claiming to belong to God will wear. The name you wear religiously matters to God, therefore, it must matter to you.

Consider how offensive it must be to God for people to claim to belong to His Son, as the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2), yet choose unbiblical names! What is your religious name?