"A Rose by Any Other Name"
June 25, 2015
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:37-38
In the second act of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has his heroine say, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." As near as I can tell, Shakespeare was promoting the idea that no matter what you call something, a thing or a person is what it is.
If that's what Shakespeare meant, I imagine he would have as tough a time with current events as I do. As near as I can tell, our present-day world says, "Anything can be called a rose, if you want it to be a rose."
1. In 1976 -- as a guy -- Bruce Jenner won the Decathlon at the Olympic Games in Montreal. But now I find out that Jenner has always felt he was a girl. And now, as Caitlyn Jenner, he has won ESPN's Courage Award. Sounds strange to me, but that's the way it is.
2. I used to think Girl Scouts were for girls and Boy Scouts were for boys. Apparently, I was wrong as recently the Girl Scouts said, "Girl Scouts exists to serve 'all girls,' no matter what they look like or their biological gender." This also sounds strange to me, but that's the way it is.
Finally, an expert on the matter summed it up this way: "A person is what he or she wants to be."
That worked well until the story of Rachel Dolezal made it into the news. Dolezal is a black lady who is the head of her local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The only problem -- Dolezal isn't black; she's the estranged daughter of two white people.
Now Dolezal has gone on record as saying she always "felt she was black," but the same news media that applauds Bruce (or Caitlyn) Jenner for his (or her) boldness, has condemned Dolezal and says she is "nuts."
Yes, it's confusing to me. Maybe it is to you too.
If so, here is something that isn't confusing. The day was Pentecost and the Holy Spirit had come upon the small group of Jesus' followers. Empowered by the Lord and speaking in many tongues, they shared the salvation story with the lost souls gathered there that day. Having heard what the disciples had said, the question was asked, "What shall we do (to be saved)?"
Peter's answer is simple, understandable and applicable for all people, in all centuries, in all countries, and on all continents. Boiling it down to its most simple wording, if we wish to be saved through the work of God's Son, our Savor, we should hear the Holy Spirit, who calls us to repent, be baptized, believe and be saved.
No matter how confusing other things may get, God's truth remains true.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the world is getting to be a pretty confusing place. May we find direction, wisdom, encouragement and hope in Your Word, which points to Jesus as our Redeemer. In His Name we offer up this prayer. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries