Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's in a Name?

Thinking out loud . . . (well, online anyway) . . .

* I've always been struck by how much power the Bible ascribes to language. I mean, Christ himself was called "the Word of God".

* When God created the world, he created it through language -- by speaking. "Let there be light" . . . and there was light.

* Notice, also, that when God was creating, he was also naming. "And he called the Light 'Day', and the Darkness he called 'Night'." The two acts seem to be connected. When you create something, you have the right to name it. But when you name something, you also contribute to the creation of it, in a sense.

* God brought all the animals to Adam to name. Part of man's being created in God's image is his ability to create and name.

* The Bible is overflowing with exhortations to praise the name of the Lord -- bless the name of the Lord -- do all things in the name of the Lord. Misusing God's name is one of the Big Ten. God's name somehow includes the essence of his being.

* Names and their meanings are always significant in the Bible. God changed Abram's name to Abraham, which means "father of nations". Naomi changed her own name, after her husband and sons died, to Mara, which means "sorrowful" (or something like that).

* When mankind was building the tower of Babel, the stated goal, according to Genesis was to "make a name for ourselves".

* When Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd, he remarks that the Good Shepherd knows all of his sheep and calls them by name.

* If a name has such importance and power, and God endows humanity with an element of that power of creation through our naming, it would behoove us to be very cautious how we name our children. Not just their regular name -- like Johnny or Suzy -- but how we "name" them. If I call my child lazy, I name him. And in a sense, I create a lazy child.

* I suppose I should also pay close attention to the names that my Good Shepherd calls me by in his Word. Beloved. Bride. Friend. Etc. When God names me such, he is also creating such in me.

As I said, just thinking out loud (or online, anyway).

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