Speaking a New Name
Kids can be mean. Just listen to how they talk to each other. I am not trying to say that all kids these days are mean, vengeful, snot-nose punks. Certainly some kids are trying to intentionally hurt other kids by their words, but I think some do it innocently. I am also NOT trying to say that kids these days are worse than kids a generation ago.
I felt like I was picked on a lot by other kids growing up. Maybe I am just hyper-sensitive to it, but I felt like I never measured up to my peers and was always being picked on and called names. I remember on one occasion when I was a freshman in high school. I had enduring the long hours and early morning practices and made the basketball team. I was awkward, clumsy and my desire for the sport way outweighed my talent, but I survived the final cuts. At one practice, we were all headed to the water table to get something to drink during a break. There was a bag of ice on the table next to the cups and pitcher of water. I reached into the bag and quickly tried to grab a handful of ice cubes. When I pulled my hand out, I sent ice flying out of the bag and sliding across the gym floor. Oops. I then heard one of my teammates yell in my direction, “Vreeland you ______.” I will let your imagination fill in the black, but I can promise you it was anything positive. As we grew up, I became friends with that guy, but I never forgot the name he called me.
It stuck with me.
It felt like a heavy rock that had been chained to my neck.
Why is that?
I think name-calling hurts because words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 is true. It says, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” Words are just words. They have no intrinsic value in themselves. They are just symbols that point (are try to point) to some idea. Our culture determines the idea that the word points to and culture can change the idea. This creates difficulty when you want to use a word that has a shifting meaning. For example, the city of Gay, Georgia used to hold the annual “Gay Fair” — a coummunity celebration. They changed the name to the “Cotton Pickin’ Fair” for obvious reasons. The idea behind the word “gay” had shifted.
Words have no real value. They are like a little containers that contain either the stuff of life or the stuff of death. A lot of the hurtful names that people call us are made up of words carrying the stuff of death. Even words or names that are untrue can carry the stuff of death. A name doesn’t have to be true to hurt. I do not have the statistical data to confirm my suspicion, but I suspect that most of us have been called names or have had people talk to us with words loaded us with death. This is why God speaks a new name in us who are Christ-followers by the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah speaks in future terms that: “The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow” (Isaiah 62:2). God does this with the coming of the Spirit. He call us by a new name giving us a brand new identity. These are the words filled with the stuff of life. All of the names we were called in the past, including “____” that I was called by my teammate in high school are now replaced with new names like: loved, accepted, righteous, chosen & elected.
Check out this list of new names and the new identity that we have in Christ. This is from our friends at Freedom in Christ Ministries.
WHO I AM IN CHRIST
I am accepted…
I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ. (John 15:15)
I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
I have been bought with a price and I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I am a member of Christ’s body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. (Ephesians 1:3-8)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:9-10)
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
I am secure…
I am free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2)
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. (Romans 8:28)
I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:31-39)
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-4)
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me. (Philippians 1:6)
I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18)
I am significant…
I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life. (John 15:5)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)
I am God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6)
I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Now before we let a list like this get us all self-absorbed, recognize that “we are” and “we can” and “we have” because of what God did and ultimately for his glory. It is freeing to understand our new identity in Christ. It is freeing to hear the Holy Spirit speak a new name in our hearts, but listen to Paul’s warning: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). The higher purpose in this new identity is God’s glory through serving and loving others.