The God Who Renames
By Fin Sheridan
Names are funny things. It’s weird that the thing that you use every day is something you had no control over – your name was chosen for you. Some people eventually change their names or adjust it to suit them but 80% of the time, we go with what we were given.
Our names form a massive part of our identity. For professionals, they contribute to their “brand”. Changing them is a significant moment. It shows a difference in identity, direction or style. Renaming a business can mean changes in profits, customers and impact. Getting the name wrong on legal documents can cause all sorts of drama. Even misspelling on an airplane ticket can prove pretty costly!
It’s no coincidence that “name calling” can be one of the most powerful forms of bullying. From a young age we realise that what we call someone can hurt more than sticks and stones. Whether it’s in the playground or the workplace, the names we use for one another can reveal the level of acceptance we feel.
“When God renames, he also repurposes.”
A repeated theme in the Bible is God renaming people. Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Israel. Simon to Peter. Saul to Paul. When God renames, he also repurposes. He changes the name to change the identity. He sets people free from their old name (symbolising their past and present) and gives them a new name (pointing them in the direction of their destiny and future).
Your name might be James, Charlotte or Olivia but you also have other names. Names that others gave you and names that you’ve given yourself. You might introduce yourself as “Dave” but your real name is “Proud”. You might sign off emails as “Amy” but mean “Failure”. Our self definition is more than a few lines on our birth certificate.
The heart of the Gospel is that we are renamed. We were “Not his people” and now are “His people”. We were “sinners” and now we are “saints”. We were “servants”, now we have become “the children of God”. As we enter into the Easter weekend, remember this: Waiting for us on the other side of the resurrection, is a new start, a new identity and a brand new name.