His Name Itself
Names are loaded with power.
Names have the power to invoke feelings.
They have the power to influence our individual actions.
Names hold the power to affect the behaviours of whole nations.
Names have the power to change the world, for better or for worse.
An example of a name that has the power to affect our feelings is Mother Teresa.
What feelings do you have at the mention of this woman’s name?
Do you feel a softening in your heart as you reflect on the merciful life that this woman lived, caring for the discarded and dying in one of India’s grimmest slums?
And what about the power of a name to affect your personal behaviour?
When you hear the name of your least favourite politician, does that name drive you to want to rush out and vote for the opposing party?
If so then you have experienced the power of a name affecting your personal behaviour.
And you can see that a name definitely holds the power to move you as an individual.
And some names can move entire nations.
Moving them to be, or to become, more gracious and forgiving.
As was the case with the name of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
That name helped move an entire nation a long way down the road toward social justice through Dr. King’s amazing work on behalf of the civil rights movement.
Still today that name is invoked when people would like to remind their fellows that civil rights, the rights of the minority, must never be forgotten in if any democracy is to thrive and grow.
So, names have incredible power to move whole nations toward doing good.
A single name can also inspire a whole people to the most horrific acts.
A case in point is the name of the German Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler.
If you have been watching the news you just witnessed ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.
Auschwitz and camps like it are a physical manifestation of the evil that grew up in Germany under the power of the name of Adolf Hitler.
Through these two examples we can see the very real power that resides in a name.
On the one hand a name can elevate men to do good.
On the other hand, a name can drive whole nations to work like demons in support of evil.
Today in our scriptures we heard about a name with more power than any other.
That name is Jesus Christ.
Acts 3:16 says, “And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
His name itself, as Peter said, holds the power to heal, to renew, to refresh, to redeem.
And how is that power accessed?
How did the power of the name Jesus Christ become manifest in the life of the lame man?
How can that power become a reality in our lives?
Through faith in his name itself.
Through faith in name Jesus Christ, which comes to us through the hearing of the word of God.
We access the regenerating power of Jesus’ name through faith, which in turn is a gift from God.
Through the God given gift of faith in the name of Jesus, we freely access Jesus’ power to heal, to redeem.
And that faith, that belief in the name of Jesus as Messiah, Son of God causes us to turn from our ways, turning instead to God’s way.
Jesus Christ is the only name by which men (and women) must or can be saved.
When by faith we repent, which means to turn from our own ways, turning from depending on our own ability to do or to be good.
When we turn to God and drop our burdens, laying them at the foot of Christ’s cross.
When we repent, turn to God in faith.
The name of Christ itself transforms us in a moment and begins a life-long transformation in the way we live.
Turning to God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit moves us from death, to life.
And as we continue to live by faith, the purifying work of the Holy Spirit continues to draw us ever closer to living in, and into, the likeness of the One by the power of whose name we are saved.
Repentance, turning to God, is not a one-and-done action or event, anymore than faith is a static one-time experience or event in our lives.
We live every moment of our Christian lives in the glorious state of repentance, the glorious state of daily, moment by moment allowing the Holy Spirit to turn us from our ways, turning always to the glorious freedom of loving and adoring our God.
And so, we live in and under the redeeming power of the name of Jesus Christ.
That is Christian repentance.
That is how our lives become hid with Christ, held until the promised day of universal restoration comes, that great and glorious day of Christ’s return at the end of the ages.
In our natural state, in the natural state of humanity we live without, or you could say outside, the power of the name itself, because we do not naturally accept the Lordship of Jesus.
When we receive the gift of faith in Jesus, the power that is in the name itself becomes the power through which we live and move and have our being.
Our lives are converted, we become truly alive; alive to God, alive to true humanity, fully alive to all of God’s creation.
When we are converted by faith in the name of Christ, we are in the beginning stages of learning about God’s plan for our lives.
Scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
It also says that the fear of the Lord is a safe place.
So, the fear of the Lord is not about living in fear, it is about living in the glorious freedom and safety of knowing by faith and through faith that you are on the path which God wants you and everyone else to be on, the path to eternal life in Christ.
Living in the fear of the Lord is about living in that state of repentance, which is the state of constantly turning away from your own power and might and turning toward God.
Living in the fear of the Lord is about living in that place of God’s grace that is a place where our human condition is regenerated daily, renewed continually by the power of the Holy Spirit as we grow into the likeness of the name by which we are saved, Jesus Christ.
Living in the fear of the Lord is about living each day, growing each day, as we wait in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection that will be ours on the day of universal restoration of God’s creation.
This being the case I leave you with a few questions to ponder in your heart.
The first being, in the light of God’s gracious love shown us in the name of Jesus itself, “How then shall I live?”
And the second is like it.
How, in the light of God’s gracious gift of faith in the name of Jesus, shall I personally be moved by the power of that name itself?
What, as an expression of my faith, can I contribute to God’s work of redeeming his creation?
How can I strive, through faith in the name itself and through the Spirit, to come alongside God in his project of expanding the Kingdom of heaven here and now on this earth?
Simply, how can I respond to God in love, and become and be, fully engage with the power of His Name Itself?