What’s in a Name?

Since I recently taught the four-year old class at church the story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis I have been pondering some of its deeper implications. The people of the plains of Shiner stated that their goal was to, “make a name” for themselves. They wanted to be known, to be acknowledge, revered, and respected. They wanted their name to matter. This desire to make a name for ourselves is deep-seated in our human nature, a nature that has mutated because of sin.  Throughout the history of mankind we see both simple and grandiose examples of characters who were determined to “make a name” for themselves. Why? Why do we long for the recognition of a name?

I think like so much of humanity, this desire stems from our creation in the image of God, but has been tainted, twisted, and redirected by the affects of the fall. As His image-bearers we were created to matter. We were created to reflect glory…the glory of His name. Jesus says in Revelation that each one of His children is to be given a special name, that only He knows. This kind of personal treatment of His beloved family, validates our deep longing to matter. The lie of sin that the ancients fell prey to on the planes of Shiner is that we can make the name for ourselves! We can make our own way to being important, to leaving a legacy.

God’s design is that He make us matter. He is the one who will give us a name that shows how valuable we are to Him, which is why sometimes His ways seem a bit upside down. A servant will be the greatest? Become like a child to enter the Kingdom? The last will be first? All of these examples, Jesus gave to demonstrate that we cannot make a name for ourselves. Our efforts are broken and futile and only drive us further away from what ultimately matters. But by His design, a servant, a child, the least among man, can allow God to give him that name that matters. It’s not about what we can do to make ourselves great. And that’s really good news since our inabilities in that department grow more and more obvious with each generation.

Do we matter? Are we of value? Does our life have any eternal worth? These are the deep seated questions of our hearts alienated by sin from the arms of our Creator. Because without Him our worth is suspect. However, in Him, we are given a new identity. His image in us gives us value, and the name He chooses for each one of His children establishes our worth.

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