Friday, April 30, 2010

Name Calling

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Philippians 2:10-11

Whenever I visit my elderly cousin, she quizzes me about my children’s names.

“Your kids have them African names?” she says.

“Yes,” I reply.

“But they’re American,” says my 92-year old cousin.

“African-American,” I say.

We laugh and I once again explain the meaning of their names and the hope that my husband and I have for them in the names that we have given them.



Names are powerful. They usually have a meaning. What we call our children matters. Too many of our children have been called the wrong things: lazy, good for nothing just like your no good daddy, stupid, ugly, retarded, a female dog. The list goes on and on.
We’ve all been called “out of our name” in our lives. We say sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt me, but the fact is that name-calling can hurt and even leave scars, just like literal sticks and stones battering our bodies. What a pain it is for a child who has to suffer the abuse of name calling. How it hurts a parent’s heart when their child comes home and says the kids called me stupid or retarded or gay or whatever the put down that is currently in fashion.

I tell my daughter from time to time, “It doesn’t matter what people call you, but what do you answer to.”

What I am trying to convey to her is that what people call you on a particular day is not your identity. Who you are is much deeper than that and if you really know who you are, what people say might still sting, but it won’t incapacitate you.

In the bible, people often chose names that reflected the circumstances of the child’s birth. Sometimes they named the child for what they hoped their character would be or what their future might hold. But whatever our parents or people name us, God has a name for us. He can change the name that people call us and help us to become the name and purpose that He has planned for us.

Abram became Abraham, father of many. Jacob was transformed from a heel grabbing deceiver to Israel, one who wrestles with God. Impulsive, wavering Simon became Peter, a rock.

People may have called you a failure. Someone might have said you weren’t attractive. Perhaps you were told you might not amount to much. Maybe some of what they said was even the truth. Or maybe you have been saying the wrong things about yourself to yourself. But as God’s children, we have a new name. He changes our name and position. Our new name is More than a Conqueror. Now we are called a royal priesthood. Our identity has been changed to free, justified, sanctified and made acceptable in Jesus Christ. Your new name is Redeemed.

I can have a new name because I have called upon the name of Jesus and believed. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).” The greatest name that we can call is the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. Call his name. That’s the best name-calling you can do.

5 comments:

Deborah Biddle said...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

Good word Monica! I too believe in the power of names...being careful to name each of my children according I believed them to be (or would be). I remind them often, when they are acting out of character, about who they are called to be in the earth. Jesus died that they might live a life abundantly...not for their personal gain, but that others might gain Christ through the life that they live. Thanks for sharing.
Bless you, Dorothy C.

John W. Fountain said...

Great piece, as always.

John W. Fountain said...

Great piece, as always.

Monique said...

Thank you for sharing that word with us. I do believe! Bless You and thanks for including me. You are a wonderful woman of God.

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