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What's in a Name

Before we were born, or shortly after, we were given a name. We had no choice in the matter, no list of three names from which to make our selection. Our parents held all the power to hang a tag on us for our entire lives. Seems a bit unfair but perhaps it was all for the best. The pressure to choose what people would call us throughout life would have been too great a burden to bear. The anxiety would have sent us into teething before we were weaned.

Our names give us a connection to our identity, a sense of autonomy. Even common names, such as John, do not strip us from our distinctiveness. There may be five other women named Mary in the room, but each are still aware of their individuality. Our names, though, give us something more significant.

When Jesus met Simon the son of Bar-Jonah for the first time it was a moment that changed the big fishermen’s life forever. However, it was the day Jesus gave him a new name that would alter the direction of his life. The name Simon means heard and when Jesus asked His disciples who men said that He was, it was certainly evident he had been listening. Simon stepped forward and made his great confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus, upon hearing this great confession changed Simon’s name to Peter which means a stone. Upon this rock, Jesus stated, I will build my church and since God builds nothing on the frailty of any man, it is obvious that Jesus meant Peter’s confession, not Peter himself. That men would confess Him as Lord is the foundation of His church, it is how the body of Christ is built.

The change of Simon’s name to Peter was not based on any achievement nor any circumstances that had come upon him. Peter’s new identity was based solely on his faith in Jesus Christ. It gave him a stone-like strength. The most important factor, concerning any man or woman, is what they choose to believe. When Jesus changed Simon’s name, He was giving him a new identity firmly grounded in his connection to his Master. This is of vital importance to understand.

We often make the mistake of attempting to find value in our achievements. Interestingly, none of those things matter in the courts of Heaven. Faith in Jesus is our only virtue, and faith itself is a gift of God, not a result of anything found within us. We allow our past failures and sins to drag us down. It is possible to allow the worst moments in our lives to follow us like vicious and hungry hyenas. Thankfully, we are not defined by God from our checkered past or our present weakness. If that is the case, Peter would have never gotten his new name. What we may accomplish or how deeply we fall is never the most defining feature of our lives. It is what we believe about Jesus Christ. We must take His side on these things and embrace His joy as our strength. With our eyes we see our lives through the name our parents gave us, but faith tells a different story. Walk today with the new name He has given you, Righteous and Redeemed. Our confession of Christ as our Savior has changed everything.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18


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