Have you ever wanted to change your name? I once heard about a scientist named Dalton Conley who wanted to know if our names impact the kinds of lives we live. To find out, he decided to perform an experiment on his kids. When his daughter was born, he named her “E” (just like the fifth letter of the alphabet). It might not have been so bad if he had stopped there. But he didn’t. Instead, Dr. Conley named his daughter “E Harper Nora Jeremijenko-Conley.” A few years later, when E’s younger brother was born, Dr. Conley gave him an even more unusual name. He was named: “Yo Shig Hanu Augustus Eisner Alexander Wiser Knuckles Jeremijenko-Conley.” Something tells me that “E” and “Yo” might want to change their names someday!
In the New Testament a man called Simon had an identity all of His own until Jesus called him something else. The Bible does not tell us if Simon, Son of John, liked his name or not. But it does tell us that the first time Jesus met him, Jesus changed Simon’s name to “Peter,” which means “Rock.” That’s an unusual name to give anyone, but especially to Peter. Because Peter didn’t seem like much of a rock. At least not in a good way. Instead, when Peter tries to walk on water like Jesus, he begins to doubt and sinks like a boulder. When Peter is asked if he knows Jesus, he crumbles like shale and denies that they have ever met. Peter is not always strong, firm, and unshakable. But that does not matter to Jesus. To Jesus, he is still Peter. He is still “the Rock.” Later, Jesus even says that Peter is the “rock on which he will build his church.”
Several years ago, the editors of a Christian magazine challenged several writers to summarize the Gospel in seven words or less. They received a stack of good responses. But I think Peter would have liked the seven words submitted by a pastor named Adia Bolz-Weber: We are who God says we are.
We all have an identity that we accept in life. We have a belief system about who we are and why we exist. For some, their identity is rooted in what others say. For others, that identity is rooted in what they tell themselves. However, when God comes into our lives He gives us a new identity that is found in Him. Our name doesn’t necessarily change, but we do. You must understand that in Christ you are not who your parents, your co-workers, your friends, or who others say you are. For that matter, you are not the good or bad things you’ve done, your achievements, your bank account balance, the clothes you wear, or the car you drive. You are who God says you are. Because in Jesus, God has given you a new name, too. It might not be a name like “Peter”’–one that appears on your birth certificate, or that you are called by your friends. But now God calls you Beloved Child. Overcomer. Saint. Holy. Precious. Chosen. Forgiven. This is who God says you are in Christ Jesus.
Once you come to Jesus, your identity is changed and found in Him. The old has gone, the new has come, and nothing can ever change that. Who you think you are has everything to do with what voice you believe. This Sunday at South Side we will be taking a look at who God says we are as “Ambassadors” for Christ during our worship time at 10:45. I encourage you to come and believe in who God says you are!!!
South Side Church of Christ