Nope, I am not referring to the song by the Ting Tings.
I am going to share with you a sermon entitled “That’s Not My Name” which I enjoyed listening two days ago in church. It was preached by none other than Pastor Keyno Paraiso.
How many times do we come across with people who expect so much from us as Christians? Ask yourself this question repeatedly. It is undeniable that we often meet people who expect us to be timid, irrelevant, and to have less fun than everybody else. Agree?
Having said that, we’ve got to be someone who shatters the expectations the world puts on us. We’ve got to get lost in our new identity. This is where the title of the sermon comes in – That’s Not My Name!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
We simply cannot reach a confused generation with confused citizens in the Kingdom of God. We’ve gotta know that we are indeed new creations and we’ve gotta remind ourselves on the daily nudge. We are new and we have got to live in our name change!
There are two simple steps to our name change.
Firstly, leave the name of our past behind us. I am sure many of us have nicknames that we have got them stuck on us for many years. And the truth is everyone around us has accumulated a history of labels and names that people or the world have tried to stick them onto us.
When we become a follower of Christ, we get a fresh start. This means we get a fresh identity from the labels of our past; hence, we get a new name. What we have to reconcile, though, is the fact that everyone else around us will still see us the exact same way they always have.
So, how do we notify them the name change? For example, my maiden last name was Ong. Now, because I am married to an American, thus I am following the tradition of the west in adopting my husband’s last name as my official last name too. With the new name change, I have to update my driver’s license, my social security card, bank cards and et cetera. Nevertheless, it is uncontrollable and without a doubt, I still carry the label of Grace Ong among my friends and family.
Now when we begin to live for Christ, we will never go unopposed. People will be quick to shove in our face who we were, who we used to be, and what we used to be about. We have to leave the name of our past behind us and keep looking forward.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focused on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Phil 3:12-13 (NLT)
Are you lost or are you with me? You see, when the enemy is trying to monopolize our perspective, we’ve gotta say – That’s not my name! When we are being reminded of how we messed up last year, tell the enemy – That’s not my name! When we are being reminded of how we came up short, tell the enemy – That’s not my name! Whatever names they used to call us, tell the enemy – That’s not my name! Say NO to our enemies and tell them we are forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
We simply do not have the time to meditate on our failures, especially when our Heavenly Father is calling us to be the Hope of the world. Even the Word of God paints a serious picture when it comes to letting the past grip us.
Do you remember Abraham’s nephew, Lot and the city of Sodom and Gomorrah at Genesis 19? The city of Sodom and Gomorrah was like a combination of Las Vegas and Amsterdam, multiplied by a trillion times. It was the most sinful place on Earth and God wanted to bring justice to this town. To cut the long story short, God had given grace and mercy for Lot and his family to escape with an angel guiding them out of the city. And they had clear instructions to run for their lives and do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Both you and I know that Lot’s wife was disobedient and by looking back, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
This passage tells us clearly about the danger of meditating on our past. Let us not give ourselves any room to peek at what we have left behind if we want to live in the fullness of God. We should not give our past any mental real estate.
Leaving our past behind is a regular practice but do not get complacent either. We have seen too many people near and dear to us, giving their past just an inch and wind up getting caught up in the lie of their old lifestyle. So remember, God wants us to leave our past behind us and grab hold of our new name change.
The second step to our name change is to simply start answering to it.
I remembered shortly after changing my name with the Homeland Security, I was so proud of it and I quickly updated the new name on my Facebook account. Whenever I was given forms to fill out in church or shopping centres, I had no second thoughts using my new name.
Some people may even forget that I have adopted a new name or some people in my case would have yet to identify themselves with their new names after getting married. People are often caught up in such situation are being reminded that in the kingdom of God, we have our name change. Take a look at apostle Peter who had his name change from Simon, and he had to answer to his new name. He would not have fulfilled his purpose until he settled in his heart that he had a new name.
Finally, stop listening to what others are saying about us and start listening to what God says about us. Christ wants to show us who we truly are. But first, we have to answer to our names in Christ.
He doesn’t see us like anyone else sees us. He doesn’t call us by the name everyone else calls us, nor does He care about the labels people have put on us. Christ does not see the broken. He does not see the failures. He does not see our disappointments. All He sees are sons and daughters with a hope and future for everyone of us.
Let us be like Peter, who answered to his new name, for Simon, was in the past now. Let us answer to our new names.