Thursday, October 15, 2009

Having Jesus In Your Heart

This the first of a series of articles based on the Gospel of Matthew intended to equip us better to be followers of Jesus Christ.

The first chapter of Matthew proves that Jesus is a descendant of, first, King David, and then of Abraham. Jesus is thus not only a Jew, he is royalty. All because Matthew could produce the list of names that links them all.

Before you read any further, take a moment and get a piece of scrap paper and a pen and write your name. Did you write your complete name? Did you print it neatly? Or did you write a signature? Is your writing distinctive? Is there something special you do to a letter or as a flourish? Have you ever played with how your signature looks or using just initials? Notice that these questions speak to how you think of yourself. And they reflect how you want others to see you.

Did you ever acquire a nickname? Do you have a “real” name apart from your nickname? Have you asked people to call you a certain name? How, if at all is it connected your given name? A nickname, when made up by others, reveals something about what they think of you. A nickname you choose yourself, or one made up that you perpetuate, reveals how you want to be related to, even in some small way.

Now, reflect for a moment on each of the following questions. What do you think is a person’s first thought when they hear your name? Does it make a difference if they are looking at you when they first hear it? Does it make a difference if you introduce yourself or if someone else introduces you? Do you want to change your name? Can you describe what it is about your name that makes you want to have a different one? How do you feel about the fact that you didn’t get to pick your name? Do you know if your parents had a reason for giving you the name they did? What was it? Has your personality developed to match your name? Is that because of your name, or because your name reflects your parents’ personality which determined not only why they named you what they did, but the way they raised you?

And here is a relevant teaching: “The ancients took a name to mean simply the essence of a thing, and seeing something and naming it to mean recognizing its nature. This was due to the fact that they gave their daughters and sons names with a relevant meaning. Every name had a unique element that indicated where people were from and what they were like....Such a manner of speaking was familiar to them, and anyone who fails to understand it will be puzzled by the symbolism....No one knows anyone’s name in heaven, either, but each knows what the other is like.” (Secrets of Heaven n.144, 145)

What do you plan to do, if anything, to live up to your name? Do you look forward to living up to your name? Are you going to be like the parent or ancestor you were name for? Is he or she a model for you? Are there characteristics about the person you were named after that you want to avoid or get rid of?

What do you want to be named in heaven?

The story of the incarnation of God begins with names, perhaps, to begin with the most external feature of the Lord, the name “Jesus” and the honorific “Christ.” At the same time, those names involve his deepest essence. On the one hand, his heredity did not define him (at least no more than it defines any of us). On the other hand, his heredity connects him to both the Divine Itself and you and I. Jesus Christ is thus unique, even as he is an archetype for all of us.

To be called “Christian” is a significant matter. No parent gives you this name. You don’t make up its meaning, its heritage. It is symbolic of a certain essence, and it actually represents a way of being, of believing and living. It cannot be taken as a “toss off” nickname.

In a sense, you cannot earn the name “Christian.” You acquire it by a life according to the commands of Jesus Christ.

Living as a Christian leads to people thinking of you a certain way. They have a first impression, which may or may not be accurate. Many of our acquaintances don’t know us by this name. Are there some we would not want to know us by this name? Why? Can you name yourself “Christian”? How comfortable are you with that.

Again, why does the Gospel of Matthew start with a list of names? Might it be that it is essential that we take on the name Christian because it connects us to our God, Redeemer and Savior? As we do, we surely acquire a new name that will stick with us even into heaven! It is an essential quality that everyone we meet there will see instantly!

1 comment:

derrick said...

Jesus Christ = Jehovah Saves, the heir to the kingdom