I was driving along the other day and heard a piece of information that I found interesting. Statistically speaking, the name of a professional sports stadium has a lot to do with the amount of winning and losing the team does. For example, stadiums named for the car companys that sponsor them see more home team wins while stadiums named for technology companies don’t do well at all. Which stadium is at the bottom of the statistics barrel? Monster Park, home of the San Francisco 49ers. What’s worse, Monster Park used to be Candlestick Park, a stadium rich with history and tradition. While corporate sponsorship is simply the name of the game in today’s professional sports business, the findings of this peculiar research reminds me of something completely different, and yet slightly related.
You may have heard the old adage: “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” But I’d like to poke at and possibly even challenge that notion when it comes to our identity as followers of Christ. Take a look at the way God worked through the Old Testament and you’ll notice something I noticed. God seemed to start His work in someone’s life from the outside in, not the inside out as you might suppose. Consider Abram and Sarai, Jacob, and Jonah to name just a few. The name on the outside gave way to victory on the inside, so to speak. It was an “external” change of name marking an “internal” change in character, purpose, and destiny.
And not only those, but think about those in the New Testament who’s identity was changed from the outside in; Matthew, Simon, & who could forget the greatest Christian-hater turned greatest Christ-follower Saul of Tarsus? God most certainly does some renovations outside as well as in.
People know me by name. But my desire is that they’d hear that name and thoughts of graciousness, generosity, passion, and fiery zeal for Christ would come to their minds. I pray that they equate my name with humility, with servanthood, and above all with Christlikeness.
Read the book of Revelation and you’ll see one final name change recorded in Scripture. We’re told that Jesus will come from heaven with a name written on Him that only He knows. (Does your theology have room for the possibility that you’ll one day know God by a different name that you don’t know now?) Whatever it is, we can rest assured in what God’s Word says: “He has been given the name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and ever tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”
What is God going to do with YOUR name today?