Tim Johnson, editor
June 12, 2011
Living up to the Name
When we are saved by Christ, we are born again and we become new creatures (John 3:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:17). The new creature we become receives a new name revealed to us by God. The name Christian is the name given to disciples (Acts 11:26). This new name reflects the fact that we have changed identities. We are not the same person after Jesus Christ calls us out of the world. That old man no longer exists (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9).
Many men and women in the Bible were given new names by the Lord. Usually these names changes had great significance. Two notable examples from the Old Testament of name changes are Abram (meaning "high father") who had his name changed to Abraham ("father of a multitude"), and Jacob (meaning "supplanter") whose name was changed to Israel ("prince with God").
In the New Testament, when Simon the fisherman was introduced to the Messiah, the Lord immediately recognized the potential strength of His new disciple and gave him the name of Cephas, or Peter which means "the rock" (John 1:31-42). Later, when Peter would display weakness, doubt or arrogance, Jesus would address him by his old surname rather than by the name that meant "rock" (see Luke 22:31; Mark 14:37; John 21:15-17; Matthew 17:25). It seems that Jesus preferred not to call Simon a "rock" when he wasn't living up to that name.
The story is told that a young Greek soldier, who had been caught running away from battle, was brought before Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great said, "Soldier, tell me your name." The soldier replied "Alexander." Alexander the Great said again, "Soldier what is your name?" The Soldier replied "Alexander." Once again, Alexander the Great asked, "Soldier, what is your name!?" The soldier replied "Alexander." Alexander the Great then said, "Either change your conduct or change your name."
The name of Christ is a loftier name than Alexander. And so, the name Christian, which means "Christ like," carries with it higher expectations. God says to us, "What is your name?" "Christian." Are we living up to that glorious name? Like the Ephesians, are we willing to labor and persevere and never give up for the sake of the name of Christ? (Revelation 2:3). Do people see a glimmer of Christ the Great when they observe your conduct, your words and your attitudes? If not, "Either change your conduct or change your name!"
-- Steve Klein
We have all heard of people who, looking back on their childhood days, would say "our family was poor -- but we didn't know it'". Such statements speak volumes about such homes and give high marks to the mothers and daddies who built them one hug, one kiss, and, yes, one paddling at a time. We rejoice with those children, now grown, who were so endowed that a scarcity of material things went relatively unnoticed.
There is, though, another kind of poverty responsible men and women experience. It is not seen in such tangible ways as physical hunger and tattered clothes, but it is real: and it is both imperative and beneficial that it be realized.
This poverty grows out of the facts about man's condition when God brings him into the world today, and his subsequent response to the will of God. Babies are innocent, of such purity that Jesus could say "to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14). With the passing of time, one becomes accountable for his deeds. God does not allow irresistible temptation, but man still yields to temptation, and sins: "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
As a result of HIS sin, man is separated from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2) and dead (Romans 6:2:3). From his first condition of spiritual innocence and safety, man, by sinning, has moved into a condition of destitution, of poverty with implications more dire than anything physical want could cause.
Jesus began the sermon on the mount by saying, "Blessed are the poor" (Matthew 5:3), because not until man realizes he is poor, will he seek to change that situation.
In a parable in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus put two men side by side. Both of them would have the same history - of temptation, of yielding and sin. The behavior of each man is inseparably related to the observer of whom he was conscious. Man can see only the external in evaluating others, but "Jehovah looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). The first man observed himself only as others would observe him, and his prayer was one of self-satisfied, self-congratulatory "thanksgiving" to God, (verses 11, 12). The second man was conscious of God as the Observer. He knew that what God saw when He looked on the heart of any man was ugly, ungrateful, totally unjustified rebellion. Knowing this, he, in sincere, abject humility, said "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner" (verse 13), and Jesus said that he, not the other, was justified!
Why? Because he saw himself as he really WAS: because of his sin, poverty-stricken, with NOTHING to boast about; and he made his appeal to God on that basis. By contrast, the fist man admitted no need - knew not that he had any need, apparently -- and so, asking for nothing, received nothing.
Poverty is not pleasant; but, to KNOW that one is poor in the spiritual, eternal sense is the essential first step to having treasure in heaven.
-- Patrick Farish
Via Weekly Bulletin of the church of Christ, 831 West Pleasant Run Road, Lancaster, TX, August 18, 1991