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Finding Faith: What’s in a name?

REV. AARON BATDORF

Have you ever wondered with Juliet, “What’s in a name?” That is, do names have any significance other than simply what someone is called as opposed to someone else? The point in Romeo and Juliet is that a name is not what is important, the person represented by the name is.

Juliet continues, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet’s question aims to show that names do not matter as they are merely labels. While this point may stand in romance — that a name is altogether unimportant when it comes to love — when thinking of God, names are quite important.

For instance, the Lord Jesus Christ is called such intentionally. Lord indicating He is ruler of all. Jesus, his given name, is more than a label to distinguish Him from Peter, James, or John. The name Jesus identifies Him as the one who will save. Christ, then, is not His last name but serves as His title showing Him to be the long-awaited Messiah. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Holy refers to His nature and his activity. The Holy Spirit is Holy first, because he is God, second, because by the Spirit Christians become holy.

One name that is easy to brush over, though, is “Father.” This is in part, I am sure, because of the baggage that comes with the title of father in our culture today. Many have had an unpleasant experience with their earthly father, so the thought of God as Father is difficult. However, Father is an important name given to the first person of the Trinity.

To see God as Father shows Christians are under God’s fatherly care. This may be difficult because of the experience of many gives a false understanding of God as Father. To see God as Father conjures up images of a strict authoritarian who is loveless and harsh. But thanks be to God, this is not who He is as Father!

As John Stott points out commenting on James 1:17, “God the Father is the source or origin of every blessing we enjoy.” God, as Father, loves and cares for his children!

For the Christian, having God as Father means being a member in His family. This takes place through the work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus, as the Son of God, gives the status of God’s child to anyone who places their faith in Him. Through the work of Christ, Christians are guaranteed a place in God’s family, never to be cast out!

Christians are adopted into God’s family through Jesus, the Son of God, and now have the privilege of crying out to God as “Abba, Father!” Because of this reality, we can say together with Jesus, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Seeing God as Father reminds Christians of God’s love and care for them. So, we ask again, what’s in a name? When it comes to God, maybe more than we think!

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Pastor Aaron Batdorf is an Associate Pastor of Discipleship at Big Woods Bible Church in Lock Haven.

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