What’s in a Name? Maybe Everything!

Christ is risen!

It is no coincidence that the first “job” God gave Adam was to “name” the animals.

Remember, the Lord created we humans in His image to become in His likeness, and that means Adam was created with the ability and the goal to grow, mature, develop, and become “like” his Creator. And that means Adam, while created “perfect” in his potential, still had “work” to do to become like his Creator. And to press the analogy even further; it was this very necessary path of growth and maturity that was part of him becoming like his Creator.

Let’s face it, the lessons learned by our transformation internally are lessons we keep our whole lives. They become the foundational character that informs future decisions, priorities, and relationships.

This process of confronting challenges, developing habits, and maturing into a responsible and “whole” person is so valuable that our God built it into the very central reason why we humans were created in the first place – to become like Him. There is simply no other motivation for life that is big enough to warrant such hard and purposeful internal work!

That’s why Adam being called to “name” the animals was so very significant. It’s because the ability to “know” the name of something means you “know” the essence of something, or someone, or some place, or some, situation, or some strength, or some weakness. Plus, Adam discovered another vital lesson: among all the animals, none of them were like him. No wonder God only said there was one thing that was “not good” in His paradise He created for Adam. It was “not good” that man was alone. So, God separated the male from the female aspects of Adam and made him a “helpmeet” like himself. Nice, isn’t it?

In our Scripture Lesson today we see another beginning of a name change that signified an amazing transformation. In Acts 8:40; 9:1-19, we read the story of the aftermath of St. Paul’s (then Saul’s) confrontation with the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus where the zealot “Saul of Tarsus” was traveling to arrest the Jews who had become Christians.

Immediately after this amazing event, “Saul” went to Damascus after having been “blinded by the Light” of his encounter with Christ. The Lord called a man in the city named Ananias, who was one of the Christians Saul was going to arrest, to go and pray for Saul to be healed of his blindness. Look how Ananias responds to the Lord’s call to go to heal Saul: “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.” (Acts 9:13-14)

Saul’s very name creates real concern in Ananias’ mind and heart when he hears the Lord wants him to go and minister to Saul.

But isn’t it interesting that Ananias feels such intimacy with Christ that 1) the Lord communicating with him doesn’t shock him, 2) he feels such intimacy with the Lord, he engages the Lord in conversation, and 3) he trusts the Lord so much that when Jesus reveals the importance of Ananias’ work with Saul, Ananias obeys.

The Lord tell Ananias that this Saul is being transformed by his encounter with the Risen Jesus and that Saul will be so transformed that he will become a champion for the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles, to the political leaders of his day, and even to his fellow Jews.

The rest of the story is filled with the stuff that makes your heart soar. Saul is healed from his blindness, receives Christian baptism, and eats with his newfound spiritual family. His name is changed from Saul to Paul.

Today, is your life transformed by your encounter with the Risen Jesus? Are you discovering the power of spiritual clarity that you can “name” the essence of your own person as well as the truth of all around you? Is the Faith “once for all delivered to the saints” producing that kind of spiritual maturity in your life?

This is what you are meant to become, dear ones. Don’t settle for anything less!

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