Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:16
Today, unlike in biblical times, most children's names are selected for sound rather than purpose or prophecy.
To pick a pretty name for their children was the motivation of a family who lived in Missouri a few years ago. When they named their children, they thought only of the way those names rolled around on their tongues.
That's why the girls were named Telepathy, Phrenology, and the third was called Tuberculosis. The boys names were really unusual. They went by the handle of Theodolit, Doxology, and Epluribusunum. The mother of that family thought Epluribusunum was just about the most high-sounding name for a boy she has ever heard. Epluribusunum.
No matter. Most people don't believe there is much in a name.
I say most people, but not all. Researchers who investigate such things have found that boys with peculiar first names have more mental problems than boys with common names. Those researchers believe a name makes a difference.
Apparently, two-thirds of our population agrees. Two-thirds: that's the number of people who think their names are too ugly, or are too old fashioned, or are too hard to pronounce, or are too common, or are too uncommon, or are too long, or are too foreign, or are too easy for people to joke about. Men don't like their names because they sound too feminine; women don't like their names because they sound too masculine. They believe a name makes a difference.
Most certainly the name "Christian" ought to make a difference to us.
We who are Christian have been bought by the precious blood of the Redeemer, and by the Holy Spirit's power we have been brought into the family of faith. That means, in contrast to other faiths of the world, we Christians have been given forgiveness, power, peace, the presence of the Savior, and a mansion in heaven.
Understand all of this is ours not because of anything we have done. It comes solely as God's gift. As a result, and in response for these gifts we are given the opportunity to live our lives in thanksgiving for and sharing of the Savior's sacrifice.
That's what St. Peter was telling the new church of Christians. He wanted them to know they could, even when they suffered for what they believed, keep on glorifying the Lord who had rescued them from sin, Satan and death.
Now most of us in North America have not been called upon to suffer for our faith. We haven't, but many of our brothers and sisters have, which is why we remember them in our prayers today. Let us ask that they be given strength to glorify the Lord, even under persecution.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord there are foreign governments and militant religions doing their best to erase Jesus' Name from the earth. At the same time there are Christians who have dedicated their lives to the cause of sharing the Savior's story of salvation. We pray You will bless these modern martyrs with the courage to glorify the Triune God. In Jesus' Name we ask this. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries