What’s in a name ?

I am named after my great grandfather. He was the son of a Kamba man who married a Malawian slave. The Malawian slave then named her son after her father. Names are so important because it is believed that whoever you are named after you will not only share looks but also some characteristics. My great grandfather had some very good qualities but there is one my wife will not want me to inherit. He had sixteen wives and numerous children. You can see how that is not exactly glad tidings to my wife.

Let’s start at the beginning, man was created by God in His image and likeness. When man fell, we lost our right to be called God’s family. The devil was after our name. Mark Twain said, “there are two most important days in a man’s life, the day he was born and the day he finds out why” I would add to this and say, there are two most important days in a man’s life, the day he is born and the day he is renamed. You see since we fell, we lost our identity. We looked for our identity in other creation, some in habits and tendencies etc.  For example, some people are named after animals like leopards in their mother tongue, others are named alcoholics based on who they are named after. The whole order of how to name was flawed after the fall. We forgot that man is unique and therefore cannot be named after another.

Although we fell, we still have some fundamentals to what goes in name. I’m an avid lover of historical, medieval movies when names used to matter. When one’s character would be governed by the name that you bear. When family names used to come with vision, mission and core values. And statements like “we the Itambos do not do this or do not behave like this” were common and held true. This is especially so for royalty. Where even though you are in a location that does not fit royalty, just a mention of the name you carry everything changes.

One day a prince visited the local drinking den, a torn-up, smoky, shack of a bar. It had wooden benches and the roof leaked when it rained. The king’s guards would do their normal patrols which included roughing up some citizens and extorting them for all they have. When they came to this bar, the prince was so well camouflaged that he was unrecognizable to anyone. Because he was very drunk the guards roughed him up a good one and placed him in a cell under the castle. The next day when he woke up, he realized where he was and shouted at one of the guards revealing who he was. The guard upon realising who was in the cell, immediately ordered for the release of the prince and punishment for the guards who had captured him.

I believe this is what happens to all of us who gave our lives to God, we received a new name just like Peter (the rock) formerly known as Simon (the reed). We struggle to believe a God who has now called us His sons, not knowing the name by which we are called and answer to. I got born again over ten years ago. The friends who knew me then used to call me a nick name that was associated with my character then. Fast forward to 2020, I am no longer that person and therefore cannot answer to the name they used to call me. I believe that God gives us a new name when we get born again and we spend the rest of our lives discovering and associating with this new name. So deep and wide is this new name that it takes a lifetime and all of eternity to become it. Michelle Obama was onto something when she named her book, “Becoming”.

What is a name to God? It is everything. The psalmist says He guides me through paths of righteousness FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE. The whole chapter starts by saying, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. We are His sheep and He is the shepherd. When a shepherd is taking his sheep to the marketplace to trade, the quality of his flock either builds or destroys his name. And once a shepherd has lost his name, he has lost his well being. That is the importance of a name to God.

We have heard of generational curses. Omens that follow certain families and blessings that follow certain families.  When we get born again, we are adopted and our full name changes. We therefore belong to this new family of Christ with all its benefits. Behold the old is gone and a new creation has been formed. God has given you a new name and you have a lot to do to discover what it means and what it comes with.

God bless you.