Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's In a Name?

... and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.  Matthew 1:21 (ESV)
... He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.  Luke 2:21 (ESV)
 ... and shall call His name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)
...and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

When we are born, our parents give us a name.  The name we bear may have special meaning.  Maybe it's a family name.  Maybe we were named after someone special in our parents' lives and they thought us worthy to carry that name.  The name we bear may not have any special meaning.  Maybe our parents liked the sound of our name.  Maybe they wanted to give a name that couldn't be shortened into a nickname.  Maybe we bear a name that is different and unique from any other name.

It's possible that we do not use the name that we received at birth.  Maybe we go by our middle name instead of our first name.  Maybe we are called by a nickname that isn't even close to a shortened version of our first name.  Maybe we think names aren't special.  Remember that Shakespeare quote:
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet." from Romeo and Juliet

Admittedly I jumped on the idea of a virtual convent because I was upset by the loss of someone who I thought cared for me.  At first I wanted to call the convent the "Sisters That Need No Mister" but as this is a religious convent it almost gave the meaning that we don't need God in our lives.  I thought the name through a couple more times and decided that adding an "s" to the end of "Mister" would solve the problem. 

The Convent and blog have provided me with the opportunity to pick a new name for myself.  This is not because I don't like or appreciate the name my parents gave me. Due to the public nature of what is written here, I decided to use a nom de plume for my own safety.  (There are crazy people out there, you know.)  After making this decision, I took time to think about the name I would give myself.  What kind of meaning did I want my new name to have?  I thought about names that I've used before on message boards I used in college.  I thought about names that I would have given my own daughter if I were to ever have one.  I thought about names that I liked in general.  In the end I chose Sister Jane because it is the name of the main character in my favorite book Jane Eyre.  Jane is a character that was able to hold up her head through many difficulties.  She kept pressing on through the struggles in her life.  Yes, Jane has been considered a plain, simple name but I needed a name that would remind me of a simple fact that God loves me and has my best interests in mind (Romans 8:28). Jane is also the name I would have given my own daughter as a middle name if I were to marry and have children of my own. 

This post began with a series of verses that point to the names of our Savior.  The names of Christ have a lot of meaning.  Christ's earthly parents were told what to name their son indicating that He was born to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  He was born to be "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14).  That's pretty cool!  Think about it.  God is WITH us! To be "with" someone is to be completely and utterly present; that's my interpretation of the word, anyway.  God is "completely and utterly present" in our lives.  This is an awesome thought! 

Christ's names reflect who He is.  He is a counselor, the mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace, with us, and savior.  I know that some would argue that Christ doesn't reflect peace.  "Look at all of the conflict going on in the world today," they might say.    I'm not blind to the fact that this world is full of conflict.  My prince provides peace to His children.  "...for those who love God all things work together for good..." Romans 8:28 (ESV).  The peace provided is not something the rest of the world can understand.  It is a peace that comes from knowing that even in the midst of conflict, God has a plan and He is working it out.  What is happening is not without purpose.  If you aren't a Christian, this doesn't sound peaceful.  You are correct because you are looking at this as an outsider.  I don't expect you to truly understand that the names of Christ truly reflect who He is and what He does for His family.

So, what is really in a name?  In my opinion, nothing.  A name is a name.  A name does not determine who we are, what we do, or what our purpose in life will be.  My name, your name, our names should not define us.  Although, our names can reflect who we are. Simon was given the name Peter to reflect what he was to become: the rock upon which the church was to be built (Matthew 16:18).  Read Peter's first sermon.  There the working of the Holy Spirit through Peter's sermon increased the Christian family by 3,000 (Acts 2:14-41).  Are you reflecting the work God is doing in your life?  If you could rename yourself, what name would you choose?  A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches... Proverbs 22:1 (ESV) Would the name you choose reflect His work in you?  I hope so.

Sister Jane
Romans 14:8

ps: While the Convent has been created to support single women, I hope that these blog posts have been meaningful all who read them: female, male, single, or married.

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