Friday, May 16, 2014

"What's In a Name?"

One of Shakespeare’s most famous lines is spoken by Juliet to Romeo in the play bearing their names, “What’s in a name?  that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Names have always been important to us. Have you noticed how parents today seem to be more innovative when naming their children? Many seem to be skipping over the tradition of passing on long held family names in favor of blending names and using various spellings for common names. Of course, some old names are being dusted off and are rising in popularity.
Each year a new list of the top baby names is published. Noah has now replaced Jacob as the top name for boys. It is the first new boy’s name at number one other than Jacob or Michael since 1960. 
Sophia remains the top name for girls. The fastest name on the rise and growing in popularity for girls is Daleyza. Tom, Jared, and Mark did not make the top ten lists and neither did Jane, Alice, or Renda.
 All this makes me think about that little verse in Acts 11:26 (NRSV) that reads, “It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’.”   Imagine that, Peter, Andrew, James, and John and all the others were given a new name. They were called Christians.
 Some scholars believe that at first the name Christian was less than desirable. Even the footnote in my RSV Bible says, “A Latin word meaning partisans of Christ, perhaps at first a term of reproach." Interestingly, instead of the name Christian being a passing phase or short lived trend, it stuck like glue.  
You can’t put your finger on why it stuck, but I wonder if it was because the people in Antioch started to notice something strange and wonderful about those believers called Christians. What do you think it was?   Was it because Christians walked to different beat? Was it the way they treated others and cared about those who were cast outside the social circle? Was it the way they showed simple acts of kindness and love?  Was it because they believed and took Jesus at his word and tried to live it out in their daily lives?   
Was it because they had a joy and a peace from above? What do you think?
I wonder what would happen the next time I am handed a magic marker and an adhesive name tag that reads, ‘Hello, My Name is………” and I wrote “Christian”?  It might get some attention, but then again, the more I think about it, I hope anyone would know that about me without me having to tell them on a name tag!  

What do you think?  How will they know we are Christians?

1 comment:

  1. Good question. At one point in time, I would have responded "they will know we are Christians by our love..."; used that in a Bible study at Camp Grier one summer. What I see today from many who called themselves Christians is a very conditional love and so that must not be the right answer. Guess I will need to continue searching for a more appropriate answer. Bruce Scoggin