Devotional by Christine Wyrtzen
AUTHORITY TO CHANGE A NAME
(Andrew) brought him to Jesus, Jesus looked at him, and said, "You are Simon the son of John, you shall be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). John 1:42
Simon must have been astounded when Jesus called him by name, and then declared that he would change it to something else. The first was surprising since they had never met. The second was earth shattering.
For a Jew, which Simon was, changing a name was something only God did. A name was an important thing in that culture. It not only spoke of your identity but of your future calling. It is said that an orthodox Jew would have been excommunicated if he tried to change his name. He would be violating divine authority.
God changed the names of Abram, of Sarai, and of Jacob. Each change was due to God's call on their life and His touch on their identity. Simon's change to Peter was no different. The young man who stood in front of Jesus would hardly resemble the older apostle who would use his mouth so eloquently in defense of the Gospel of Christ. As a young disciple, He spoke recklessly and tainted the purposes of the kingdom.
God gives each of His children a brand new name. A few feel they know what it is now, but for most, it will be revealed privately in heaven. (Rev.2:17) He is our Creator, our "owner", and has all rights to name us, call us, and rewrite our destiny.
The question is this. Am I willing to disown the identity shaped by human will? Parents tell their children, "You talk too much. You're not as bright as your brother. You're lazy. Your mouth will always get you into trouble." I, as a child, soak in the labels and it can define me for a lifetime if I let it. When I became a child of God, He became my Father and I began to grow up with Him as my parent. His desire is for me to discover my new place, my real self, my true calling. My part is being willing to place the sacred ways of my family on the altar, renounce any ways of Egypt, in order to embrace my God-given identity. Who is "Christine - in Christ"? Who are "you - in Christ"? That is the question that calls us to prayer, study, reflection, and application.
Like Peter, I pray I don't resemble the young woman who came to you. May confidence and joy mark the rest of my days. In Jesus name, Amen