Author: Lynne Carter
With a new grandbaby being welcomed into the family soon, our family is especially keen on helping to unearth the perfect name for our impending new arrival. Being ever so helpful to the expectant parents, the entire family is jam-packed with potential names to pass-on to the oh so appreciative new mom and dad. You know, we’re ever zealous in giving our two cents worth. And why? Because one’s name is so important. It travels with you throughout your life. It’s your calling card and often the first detail revealed about yourself when meeting someone new. Much expectancy rides on a name. Could it factor into one’s ultimate personality? Might it possibly make one seem more interesting or more exotic? Perhaps it might even make one sound more intelligent. One’s name can fade into oblivion or just maybe bring him/her to the forefront. And who knows when one’s name will go down in history—hopefully for all the right reasons.
Take my name Sidney for instance. In my family we have traced this female name back to at least the early 1800’s, and recently I discovered its historical importance. In the early formation of our country there were many people who came here seeking freedom from tyrannical monarchs. They were inspired by the bold writings of Algernon Sidney who spurred the oppressed with his notions of democracy and a government of the people. He introduced and encouraged personal freedoms and prompted people to seek these opportunities in the new land growing across the ocean. He is credited with influencing great leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, as well as, fueling the fires of freedom from England. So, quietly his followers showed their support for the disillusionment of the monarchy by naming their offspring Sidney. How revolutionary!
What we call ourselves can truly reveal who we are to the outside world. Not only am I Sidney Lynne Carter, I am identified as the wife of Erik Carter and the mother to Sidney Elizabeth, Erik Levi, Montana Luke Bailey and Joseph Colten Carter. We gave each of our children a family name, as well as a Bible name. We hoped that if anyone happened to recognize our methodology, that they would realize that family and God are central to our lives.
But with as much fascination and importance that I have put on names, for years I was blind to the responsibility I bore in proclaiming the name Christian. I was oblivious to the fact that the bolder I wore the banner of Christianity, the more pronounced was the scrutiny I would encounter. I innocuously took on the moniker of Christian and bore the label as essentially an identifying stamp between me and Jesus. The name merely sealed my pact with Him. Officially, I could proclaim us as blood brother and sister. But I couldn’t have underestimated the name of Christian more. It’s a privilege. At the proclamation of Jesus’ name one becomes a witness for the faith. Whether we are cognizant of it or not, as Christians our lives, our manners, our words and even our offspring are continuously being studied, examined, scrutinized and questioned. Eyes are most definitely looking our way for a few crucial reasons. One, the outside world is waiting for us to fall and fail so they can justify their lack of need for our beliefs. Or more hopefully, people will see our example and be so awed by it that they too will want it for their own lives. Or lastly, our witness may have so little impact that there is absolutely no effect on others at all.
In college my sorority had strict rules against drinking or any type of lewd behavior while wearing our sorority jersey. In other words, while I was identifying myself as an AXO, I was not to tarnish my sorority’s name. I know too often my actions, words and behaviors have not lifted up and glorified the King while I have been wearing my “Jesus jersey”. Have I too often whispered the name Christian or maybe even apologetically claimed the name of Jesus to those I encounter? I Peter 4:16 tells us “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
The disciples did not call themselves Christian. They chose names such as “the brethren”, “the saints” or “those of the way”. It wasn’t until the first Bishop of Antioch decided to name this growing group of believers that the evolution of the name Christian began. Initially, there were even some that misunderstood that the center of this new belief was Christos and not chrestos which means good. However, this misnaming helped give credence to the words of I Peter 2:3 that the “Lord is good and gracious”.
Regardless of the moniker your parents have bestowed upon you, as a believer you have a royal name. I John 3:1 says “see what kind of love the Father has given us: We are called God’s children—and that is what we are!” As God’s children we wear the banner as those that are loved, forgiven and never forsaken. As “a child of God” and as a “Christian”, I trust that you will wear these names proudly and be awesomely aware of the witness you offer every time you put on your “Jesus jersey”. Often our witness is unintentional, so I encourage you to wear your “Jesus jersey” every day knowing that His name and His love can work through you and make others want to wear the name of Christian too.
Lynne Carter is the mother of four with two still in college. She is currently in the final chapters of her great American novel. When not writing she can be found walking on the greenway or at her favorite antique stores. Her favorite Bible stories are those of God’s unending grace, and she hopes her own writing can instill that same message.