"By Any Other Name"
March 27, 2008
And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. Acts 11: 26b
Last week MSNBC carried a story on children's names like Wanna Towell, Al Caholic, and Fanny Large.
In his play "Romeo and Juliet", Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
It was Shakespeare's way of saying, "Names don't count for anything; it's the person inside who counts." He may have been right, but I know both of our daughters, Kirsten and Kristianna, at one time or another, wished we had baptized them with a different name.
My girls aren't unique. Many people find their names nondescript, boring, embarrassing, or all of the above. Fortunately, most people grow out of this resentment and learn to appreciate the name mom and dad gave them.
That may not be true for everybody. I can't blame Wanna Towell, Al Caholic, and Fanny Large if they stayed upset most of their lives. And what can I say about those who were saddled with the names Bread White, Good Dog, and Gamble Moore?
Throughout my life I've endured many Santa Claus jokes, and I've learned to take it with good nature, but I don't know what I would have done if I had been named as some poor children have been-Avarice Sullivan, Dinner Ware, or Anita Bath.
In truth, we might not like the names our parents give us, but there is one name that should never cause us shame-the name "Christian". The book of Acts tells us how in Antioch the disciples of the Savior were first given the name "Christian". We, like the believers of twenty centuries ago, should rejoice to be so closely identified with the Son of God who is the Savior of the world.
True, the world might not like the name; it may try to erase it from memory, but we should never do anything that would embarrass our Lord. On the contrary, we should be proud to carry the name of Him who gave His life so we might have life eternal.
As St. Peter said (1 Peter 4:16), "... if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I may be called by many names as I live my life. May I always be proudest of the one You have given me. May I always live as someone who has been adopted into the Christian family. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries