Called by a New Name

On our recent deputation, we spent some time in the Isle of Skye, where my father was born and brought up, and where many of our relatives still live. It came afresh to me that people when being referred to or identified in Gaelic are introduced as being the son of their father. For instance, my father who is called Neil, would always be known as Neil son of Angus who was his father, and I in turn would be known as Wilma daughter of Neil Angus and so on. This has always intrigued me and also as a child given me a feeling of belonging, emphasizing the importance of family.
Also in Greece, names are very important, as the first born son is called after his paternal grandfather, and the first daughter after the paternal grandmother etc, making people not only easier to identify, but I am sure giving the children a very definite feeling of belonging in the family circle. Naturally, if your grandfather was a good man who lived a good life, then a boy would feel very proud to carry that name further.
In the Bible it is also so, that sometimes people are known by different names. Some of the most notable being Levi & Simon: Levi was a tax collector before he came to know Jesus and a pretty dishonest one at that. The first Levi was the third son of Leah, who was the first wife deceitfully given to Jacob by Laban, his father-in-law. This name in Hebrew originally meant ‘joined’ as Leah in Genesis 29:34 thought that since she had given Jacob 3 sons, he would now be joined to her and choose her over Rachel, the wife he loved, but who was at yet barren. From this name eventually came the tribe of the Levites who were set aside to be the priests.
But, after Levi followed Jesus, he became known as Matthew, which means ‘gift of God.’ Recorded in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5: 37, this could have been to signify the free gift of salvation, which has been given to Matthew when he trusted in Jesus. In Revelation 2:17, the person who overcomes will be given a new name. We have been given a new name as followers of Christ. We are known as Christians, not because of anything we have done but because we have been reborn into the family of Christ and are therefore known by His name. We should therefore, always be aware that how we live as believers reflects on the family of God our Father.
Simon means ‘he who has heard’ and in spite of being hard headed and a bit strong willed Simon had heard and listened to Jesus teaching for three years. He had obeyed Jesus in following Him, he had failed many times and yet Jesus could see much more potential. He, who knows the heart, could see, not only a disciple, but one with amazing leadership qualities. Jesus therefore wanted him known from then on by the name Cephas (in Aramaic ), or Peter meaning ‘rock’. God was going to use Peter as a founding leader in the New Testament Church and He gave him a name to identify him as such. (Matt 16:18 and John 1:42).
If a person is very good at tennis or running, he likes to be called an ‘athlete’, a pianist likes to be called a ‘musician’, or a university professor to be known as an ‘academic.’ I am sure these men were glad to be known by the names which identified them in their new roles.
Amazing that despite our failures, our pride, lack of love and forgiveness toward others, God calls us reconciled, justified, forgiven and beloved in Him! He calls us by these names and many more, continuing to cleanse and making us holy, transforming us into the image of His Son, till the day he takes us home. He is allowing us to have the family resemblances to go with the name we carry as a gift from God. Do we let Him do this transforming work in us, by renewing our minds? Or, are we still conforming to the world and what it expects from us. Romans 12:1&2
In this world today it is possible to have your identity stolen and it can cause such a lot of hassle to try to prove who you actually are, but remember no one can ever steal our identity in Christ! He knows each one of us by Name!

Leave a Reply