…I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17 (NIV)
My husband’s parents, like so many before them, came to this country seeking a new life filled with opportunity. They followed a time-honored route from Lebanon to South America and eventually settled in New England. As an initial step in becoming full Americans, they Anglicized their family name, el Khoury (the Priest), to Curry. A new language and a whole new lifestyle were other changes that would follow.
With all the current interest in immigrants at home and abroad, I’ve been thinking about our own status as Christians. Most of us were grafted into God’s family, as Paul refers to Gentile believers, and it has become our duty to learn the lifestyle and behaviors of the new Kingdom. For us, the change is not usually physical relocation—instead, become new creations (II Corinthians 5:17-21) in Christ Jesus. We are given new opportunities at life and fresh beginnings.
Most of all, I love the idea of having new names. Throughout the Bible, much is made of names. The names of biblical people revealed inherent character, and changed names reflected transformations of character. Just look at Abraham’s grandson Jacob (usurper) who cleverly took his brother’s birthright and blessing and whose name was later changed to Israel after he wrestled with the angel, clinging until he was promised God’s blessing. Or Simon (he has heard), that impetuous disciple of Jesus who was swift to listen and equally quick to act, whose name Jesus changed to Peter (rock). God knew what he would do through both these men, and he knows what he will do through and in us.
Besides new names and new potential, we are continually being transformed with new outcomes awaiting us. Whatever threatened or diminished us in our old habitats is now addressed by us with our new Ruler, as we learn to embrace and assimilate into God’s Kingdom. And for us, the assimilation is not just a one-time activity. Paul tells us that as we contemplate him, we are changed into his image (II Corinthians 3:18)—new name, new person.
Do you know what your name means? Are you living up to the promise it holds?
Father, thank you that you love us enough to continually work in us making us more and more like your beloved Son, Jesus. We joyfully submit to your ministrations. In Jesus our Lord. AMEN.