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Religious Reflections

Hey, that's my name!

Pastor Jelmer Groenewold

What's in a name? A lot. If the name that's being used or abused is your name.

Your name is you! Your name is more than a personal designation; your name is you. It's your reputation. When people use your name they reflect their opinion of you. For example, if you get your name in the paper for some outstanding achievement, you receive cheers and congratulations from those who know you. If you get your name in the paper for some alleged crime or misdemeanor, you will receive put downs and cold shoulders.

Your name is you! It's your most precious possession. You perk up when people use it honorably; you get upset when people misuse or abuse your name. After all, when you lose your reputation you lose people's respect and trust.

You may have never thought much about it, but God has a name, too. In fact, God has a number of names that he has passed on to us over the years. He has passed on more than one name because his names tell us who he is and who he will be for the world and for us. One name just isn't enough.

Let me list just a few of his many names and give a brief definition of them:

God - the One who is above all and deserves the service of all.

Father - short for Father of Jesus Christ, Creator of the universe, and Father of all those who believe in Jesus.

God Almighty - all-powerful God who created this world and keeps it going.

Jesus - God saves; the name that designates Jesus as the one who would die for the disobedient and so rescue them from the consequences of their sins

Christ - official name for designated Savior and Ruler of God's people.

Think a moment. Have you used any of these names of God in your conversation this past week? Have you heard others use any of these names? How did you use those names? How did others use them?

Think again. If God's names identify a significant aspect of God's character, your use of God's names and others' use of God's names identifies what they think of God.

In my experience some people use God's names respectfully like they use the name of anyone they hold in high regard. Others use God's names unthinkingly; they may use those names to add emphasis to their vocabulary or because they heard their parents use those words. Still others use God's name angrily when they hit their thumb with a hammer or get cut off on the highway. It sounds as if they are blaming God for the accidents and inconveniences of life. Perhaps they are.

As you speak to others remember that a name is a very precious commodity. Your name is you so you want others to respect it. The names of other people are equally precious to them; please handle them with care. Finally, when you use God's name, think twice. His names are the most precious of all.

In fact, when talking about the name of Jesus, God says in the Bible, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

- Pastor Jelmer Groenewold, Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church

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