There have been a lot of weddings this summer. I’ve been to a few myself. Though some brides no longer take their husband’s last name as their own, most still choose this evidence of oneness.
I love being identified with my husband...most of the time. I like to see him across a room or outdoor expanse and point him out to others. “That’s my husband over there. Yeah, the one talking wildly with his hands and making everyone laugh.” Yep. He’s mine, and I am his.
If you raised your children to know and believe in God, you hope to see them transition from ‘the God my parents’ serve” to ‘the God I love and serve.’ When they proudly speak His name and say they are His, it’s a day worth celebrating.
In Isaiah 44:3-5 God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” (NIV)
The first step is saying, “I belong to God.” He declared His love for me and I accepted. I am His.
The second step is when you refer to yourself by His name. Not your denomination or rules, but stating that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior.
This scripture mentions people wrote God’s name on their hands. My commentaries agree they were most likely tattoos, like the mark on a soldier, showing his allegiance to his commander. My daughter and her husband tattooed their ring fingers – to declare their love and commitment to God and each other. Many Christians today have Jesus’ name or His Word permanently imprinted on their bodies to show their love for Him.
Finally, those who love Christ above all others take His name as their own. The word Christian was originally a derisive term meaning “little Christ,” because early believers talked and acted so much like Jesus. The Church - the Bride of Christ - pray the longer we walk with Him, that people will see Him in us, just like couples who’ve been married for decades.
Our world is currently experiencing another wave of persecution against those who call themselves by the Name. ISIS terrorists in Iraq are forcing Christians to move, convert to Islam, or be killed. Men, women, and children are being slaughtered by the hundreds. The identifying mark for genocide is the Arabic symbol for Nazarene. Jesus the Nazarene.
It’s one thing to identify yourself as a Christian when it’s stylish. It’s quite another when bearing His name brings insults, job loss, or death. Many times throughout my life I’ve resisted being too outspoken about my relationship with Christ for fear someone would reject me. This is to my shame.
But now, I want to stand tall and say, I belong to Jesus Christ and my brothers and sisters being slaughtered in the east. He is our Lord and Savior. Not only do we bear His mark, but He has written our names on His hand. He promises all who love Him, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16, NIV). He is not ashamed of us either; in fact, He’s rather proud.
What about you? When faced with offending others or possible persecution, will you call yourself by His name? Who do you belong to?