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What's in a name?

I didn't grow up in a Christian home, so the use of the name Jesus Christ was not especially revered. Neither was the name of God. I heard my relatives use both names as curse words, and as I got older, I did myself (when no adults were around, of course). Even as I used those words wrongly, I didn't feel right about it. I knew, even in my unregenerate state that those names meant something. Christ just isn't a name. God isn't just a name.

This morning, as I was studying Ephesians 1, I was noting how many times Paul talks about being "in Christ," and I saw how many times Christ is referred to. At the end of the chapter, Christ is on the throne, seated at God's right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, far above every name that is named. His name is above all names, and it's not just because of the letters used or the way it sounds when we say it.

What's in a name? An identity. And when it comes to Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, it is the identity of the one who bled and died that we could be reconciled to God and live in newness of life. When I hear people using it as a curse word, I cringe. I feel the same about the ridiculous "OMG."  I like what D.A. Carson has to say about the matter:

The reason we are not to say "Oh, God!" when we hit our thumb with a hammer or say "Jesus!" when we are disappointed is precisely because it diminishes God.  If you were to be so bold as to turn to a person who has use Jesus' name because he has hit his thumb with a hammer and say, "I wish you wouldn't use my Savior's name like that," he would probably reply, "I do not mean anything by it."  But that is the point:  he does not mean anything by it.  That is precisely why the usage is "profane," that is, common.  Using the name of God or Jesus when you "mean nothing" by it is not profane because you have spoken a magic word that you are really not allowed to use, as if only priests can say the right abracadabra.  The usage is profane beause it is common, cheap.  We are dealing with God, and we must say and do nothing that diminishes him or cheapens him.  It is at best disrespectful, ungrateful, and demeaning; at worst, it de-gods him and thus sinks again in the level of idolatry.

We bear the name of "Christian." To some, that is an ugly name; it represents things they don't believe. What we as the bearers of that name can do is wear it with integrity and sincerity, not associating it with ugly conduct or unkindness. Rather, we should wear it with gratitude for being able to claim that name. 

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