Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Name Game

Flipping through the radio presets yesterday, I stumbled across an old Black Crowes song, She Talks To Angels. Now I know this isn't a typical "pastor song" (whatever that means), but my musical taste has always been a bit ecclectic. Anyway, the lyrics are about a woman with a drug problem and the wild claims she makes. The chorus reveals just how far gone the girl is:

Says she talks to angels
They call her out by her name
Oh yeah, she talks to angels
Says they call her out by her name

Now obviously, the woman is having hallucinations from whatever she's injecting into herself. But she brags about how well she is known by the heavenly beings -- they know her by name. Personally.

Those hungering to be known say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. "Just make sure my name is spelled right," they remind the reporter. Celebrities hire agents whose responsibility it is to find ways to keep the star's name in the public eye. The name is the key. It's a personal connection. Is it any wonder that the television show Cheers began with a theme song describing the bar as a place "where everybody knows your name"? We like to be known. We enjoy being recognized. I love running into people I know in unexpected places. I call out his name and he calls out mine. Our name is the summary of who we are.

In biblical times, names were even more personal. Often a Hebrew name would signify a parent's prediction of that child's future or the circumstances of the child's birth. There are some pretty tough names to live with mentioned in the Old Testament. The prophet Hosea's kids bore horrible names. His daughter was named Lo-Ruhamah, which means "not loved" and his youngest son was named Lo-Ammi, which means "not my people." Imagine facing the kids on the playground at Hebrew school with a name like Notloved or Notmypeople!

While our names today may not always reflect our personality, they come to encompass what kind of person we are. "Well, you know Ed," someone may say, trying to explain my bizarre behavior. "You can't believe anything Ed says," another chimes in. In this example, my name has become synonymous with poor character -- an odd liar. Those who have poured that meaning into my name have done so from personal experiences with me. I heard that very thing happen to a man yesterday. A couple recounted the lies they had been told by a guy named Forest B. To them, the name Forest B. represents a liar based on their unfortunate personal experiences.

But our goal is that important people should know our name. You could certainly impress some people if you could tell them that President Bush calls you for advice! The more important the person who knows you, the more impressed others become. I remember walking up to a local TV sportscaster while I was with a bunch of friends. Now the sports guy and I used to work together back in my radio days, so it was a quick handshake reunion for us. But my friends were impressed. I'm not sure why. He's not that impressive! Just think if I'd have talked old times with an ESPN anchor! They may have passed out!

Still the most impressive thing I can think of is the fact that I am known by God. He knows my name. And He loves me. I don't really understand why, but He does. He loves me enough to die for me.

Of course He knows you too.

Oh, and about having a name known by important people, I'll close with this from Philippians 2:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 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, to the glory of God the Father. (emphasis mine)

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