When God gives us a new name
Have you ever noticed that the closer you are to someone, the less they use your given name? Nicknames, it seems, are a great indicator of relationship status. If someone feels comfortable enough with me to call me Bekkie, Bekka, or the many other variations of Rebbekka, I know that they’re probably close to me--even more so when they call me something entirely different.
It’s this line of thinking that has lead me to wonder what God calls me. Does God have a nickname for me? He, too, is in the business of changing people’s names to indicate their new standing with him. Here are just a few examples:
- Abram, meaning “high father” — to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude of many nations”
- Jacob, meaning “caught by the heel” — to Israel, meaning “God may prevail/he struggles with God/God preserves”
- Jebediah, meaning “friend of God” — to Solomon, meaning “peaceful”
- Sarai, meaning “argumentative” — to Sarah, meaning "princess”
- Saul, meaning “prayed for” — to Paul, meaning “small/humble”
- Simon, meaning “he has heard” — to Peter, meaning “the rock”
- Joseph, meaning “He will add” — to Barnabas, meaning “son of encouragement”
There are many more if you look into it, and when you read their stories, these nicknames make sense. Saul, from Jewish decent, was a very religious man. I’m sure many people prayed for him, but at his conversion — at the time Jesus renamed him — he became a humble leader of the New Testament church. Similarly, Abram became Abraham because of God’s promise to him that he would be the father of many nations. His name was a reminder of that promise. Jacob really did spend time wrestling with God and because of it, God changed his name and blessed him. And Barnabas was a great encourager for the apostles and the early church.
Then there’s Peter. He was the one who spoke up when Jesus’ disciples were all talking about what people were saying about him, and Jesus asked “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon (his birth name) answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus blessed him and told him, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Jesus looked at Peter and saw in his response what would become the foundation of the church. Peter had the courage to say what he was feeling, and Jesus responded by giving him a new name. I can’t help but wonder what Peter was thinking when he heard his new name for the first time, and how an entire kingdom would be created based on his proclamation of faith, or how Abraham felt when, as a very old man, after accepting the fact that his wife could not carry a child, God gave him a name that meant he would become the father of many nations.
God has given you a name, too
If you are a believer and a follower of Christ, chances are God has given you a name as well. The truth is, God’s grace changes everything about us. When we accept him, we are made new--no longer identifying with the person we were, but transforming into the likeness of Christ.
If you look into it, you’ll find that the Bible already provides us with a wide range of nicknames. In Christ we are sons, daughters, conquerers, servants, leaders, brothers, sisters, and more. Because of our relationship with God, he calls us something new--something that reflects his promise and our purpose.
We need only accept Christ and embrace his mission to get a new nickname.
Our relationship with him can be summed up by what he calls us, and for me, I love the thought of God referring to me as daughter, princess, and conquerer.
What names do you think God has for you?