And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. ~Acts 4:12
When I ponder the idea that God has a name, I am struck by what an intimate, personal, powerful thing that is. My husband has a name, my children, my friends, my family — the people with whom I have a relationship. When we give names to inanimate objects, it’s said that we’re personalizing them. Names allow relationships.
Our Father has a Name. He’s not an “it” — not an object, an impersonal force or a distant mechanic. He is a Person. With a name. When I first inched toward Christianity, after years of atheism, I thought a lot about that idea. I was stunned to think that we share this characteristic with Him.
A name. It’s what we whisper to our beloved. It is what we bestow on our babies after much careful consideration. Names call to mind friends, sisters, fathers, heroes. Names identify us, shape us, and connect us.
In Scripture, a name often defines a mission, and a name change indicates a vital change in one’s role and purpose. Thus Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah and Jacob is transformed into Israel. Simon becomes the rock and Saul is shattered, resurrected as Paul. One name defines the mission from the start: Jesus means, and is, our Savior.
Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~Philippians 2:9-11
Names have meaning. I become my name, it becomes me. My name is who I am but that began with the origin of all things, with God — He has a Name, at once precious and holy. I, in a certain sense, am my name. I am Karen. But He — He is simply I AM. He exists in a way that I cannot and do not. But at the same time, He wants me to have a share in that existence, to be part of what He is. To be called by name.
But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” ~Isaiah 43:1
We are made in God’s image and likeness in other ways — He’s given us both a will and an intellect, after all, just as He possesses — and so why not in this way? Why not, the Divine Mind must have mused, give my creatures the intimacy of names?
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. ~Proverbs 18:10
I can barely fathom Who and What God is, but when I call on His Name, when He calls mine, I have a glimpse of what He intends for me and for all of His creatures — an intimate, eternal, holy connection. And I am changed forever by I AM.
… for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. ~Luke 1:49
What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “Name”?
Karen Edmisten is the author of The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary and Through the Year With Mary: 365 Reflections. She’s a contributor to Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion and A Little Way of Homeschooling: Thirteen Families Discover Catholic Unschooling and is currently at work on a book about miscarriage (due out in 2012.) She blogs about faith, family life, books and education at the place with the shockingly clever title, Karen Edmisten.
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