Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's In a Name?

Recently, as part of an assignment for the College work I've been doing, I was given the opportunity to look up the meaning of my full name. (Something which I had never done.) I was actually surprised with how it turned out, and with what I learned. Besides, I wouldn't be here with this post if it hadn't stirred, as Hercule Poirot would say, "the little grey cells."

It turns out that my name is a motley assortment of European originated terms, from the Irish gaelic and Saxon tongue responsible for my first and middle names, to the German last name I have inherited from my ancestors.
-Aden: Fire.
-Sheets: To protect and defend.

Weird conglomeration, isn't it? Well, to be completely honest, the first image that popped into my head actually was the wandering Wizard Gandalf of Tolkien's grand mythos. That made my pride quite happy, but I was quickly put in check when I realised I had no awesome, gray beard.

On a much more serious note, though. A name is something special. Even though God has not explicitly spoken to our parents and told them what it should be, there is an element of His Wisdom and Providence that can be found in our given names.

Our Lord's name was Jesus because, as the angel Gabriel says to Joseph in Matthew 1:21,  "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (ESV) We are Christians because we are followers of Jesus Christ. So, a name tells us something about each other and ourselves.

Now, back to my name. After dwelling on it more, I found shame in it. And rightly so, for I found my flesh could be seen in every part of my name. Watch.
-Aden: My fire (i.e. passions) don't burn for the right things, for the Glory of God. 
-Sheets: I want to defend myself, my pride, and my desires more than I want to serve and protect others. 
Look at my name. Look at me. Great examples of what? Filthy rags. I'm not being hard on myself, just acknowledging the obvious truth about me. That's why I'm so thankful that God is sanctifying me now, and has something New in store for me in the future.

In Revelation 2, Jesus starts His address to the seven churches. Most are chilling warnings and reminders that we are all sinners, and even as the redeemed, can and will fall woefully short of what God has commanded us. But, look at 2:17, Christ opens the spectrum of His audience and is now speaking to "he who has an ear." In short, it has become an encouragement and exhortation to His chosen elect. Here's the passage, I'll just back up to the beginning of this Church's letter.

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. "I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." -Revelation 2:12-17 (ESV)

Take a look at the promise, which I italicized for emphasis, that Christ gives us. We will receive New Names straight from the two edged tongue of Jesus that only we, and Him, will know. Awesome! But wait a second, look at what has to come first. Only the ones who conquer will receive that New Name. You might say, "Wait. Conquer. Conquer what?" All we have to do is look back earlier in the passage to see what it is we have to conquer. (And no, I don't mean we are to personally conquer Satan. Christ did that with His heel in a Garden ages ago.) Look, the Church in Pergamum is being faithful to Jesus while living amidst the throne of Satan, yet they have stumbled into idolatry and sexual immorality. How does that apply to us and conquering?

Christ tells this church to repent from their sin. This is the key to the conquering. For that church. For us all. If we have and are being changed by the Grace of God, we are a new creation. The sinful flesh should be put to death, for that is what we are called to conquer! We are to repent from our sin and turn to Christ and cast aside ourselves and put Him on in faith, that is the only way our flesh can be conquered. Only by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Anything else outside of that is futile... is works... is filthy rags.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

I pray that my name's meanings will become more centered on His Glory rather than my flesh as I am sanctified. That those names would ultimately remind and tell me more about the Spirit who dwells in me, the Christ who has saved me, and the Father whom I serve.

I also pray to God that we, His elect, would be called faithful by Him on the last day.

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