When my wife, Marcia, worked as a nurse on the labor and delivery floor of a hospital, she heard, well let’s say interesting name choices: Winter, Snow, and Peanut to name a few. I once heard of a boy named Army Ranger. What if he has asthma or bad eyesight and can’t go into the military? What if he can’t hit a curve ball?
There are some countries that have an approved list of names for children for this reason! CNN had an interesting article that outlined child naming laws in several countries. In Japan one given name and one surname are chosen for babies, except for the imperial family who only receive given names. In Denmark parents choose from a list of pre-approved names. China basically requires parents to name their children based on the ability of computer scanners to read those names on their national ID cards. China rejected the name “@.” You would think that would be easily read by a computer! One set of parents in Sweden submitted the name the name Brfxxccxxmnp cccclllmmnprxvclmnc kssqlbb111163 in protest of their country’s naming laws. The name was pronounced Albin, obviously. It was rejected.
But, here in the good ‘ole USA you can name your kid anything you want. Among the worst baby-namers are celebrities. Penn, of Penn and Teller, named his kid Moxie Crimefighter. Actor Rob Murrow named his kid Tu (as in Tu Murrow). Michael Jackson famously named one of his kids Blanket. Being bad at naming babies must run in the family. His brother, Jermaine, named one of his kids Jermajesty. Evidently actor David Duchovny could not think of a name so he named his kid Kyd. Sylvester Stallone named his kid Sage ... Moonblood. He was on the right track, what happened?! Famous chef, Jamie Oliver, went out of his mind and named his kids Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo and Petal Blossom Rainbow! After that list I think we should consider a national name registry!
It is not unusual for folks who come into contact with Jesus to then go by a different name. Levi becomes known as Matthew. Jesus nicknames Simon, Peter. Saul turns to the name Paul. There is an identity shift when a name changes. We may not change our given name, but we do take on a new identity when we encounter Jesus and respond in faith. We take on the name of Christ, we become Christians. In the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “... if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” In short, our new identity is now tied to the name of Jesus Christ.
This makes the question Jesus asked his disciples an important question for us too: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29b) How we answer that question has as much to say about our understanding of His identity as it does our own. Whatever we think about Jesus is what we will be about. Who do you say that He is? The easy way to answer that question is to ask, Who are you becoming? How are you different now than when you became a Christian? In what ways have you changed in the last year, five years, 10 years? Answering those questions will tell you what you think about Jesus.