Thursday, September 8, 2016

Justice Devotional - What's In a Name?

Devotion to Justice
A series of devotions from the Justice table on the topics of
  • Women and children
  • Hunger and poverty
  • Creation care
  • Immigration
What’s In a Name?
Acts 4:36

The custom of modifying a person’s name to more appropriately represent God’s work in their life accompanied God’s relationship with God’s servants throughout the bible. The intriguing piece, however, is found in how this change of name always reflected the individual according to how God himself saw them, rather than they themselves or even others. Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel; and even Jesus himself changed Simon to Peter demonstrating in this way the transforming work of the Spirit, which would move him from being an insignificant fisherman to a rock within the church. Along with this was a change of location, a time of moving.

As Abram began his journey away from his family and from his land, he was a foreigner. He was an undocumented illegal alien. But he was only this in the eyes of those suggesting he didn’t look the same, talk the same or believe the same. In the eyes of the Lord, he was already Abraham! Seeking a better life, not for himself, but for his descendants that did not yet exist!

Times have not changed so much that this custom is not represented in our ever changing world today. But let us wonder if this was at the center of God’s intention as we compare in contrast this biblical custom, with the custom of man today where “nicknames” are placed on individuals, usually based solely on circumstances or physical characteristics. We live in a society that is divided on issues surrounding immigration and at the center of this we hear names such as “Wetback,” “illegal,” “alien,” “unwanted,” and “criminal” among other, many times worse names, used in a derogatory manner to degrade and minimize the value of another human being.

Our world is full of inequalities. Countries prosper while countries perish. People hunger while others indulge in excess. While these inequalities exist there will always be a fleeing people seeking a better life.

Let us strive to see others through the eyes of our Lord and Creator. Let us look and listen for the characteristics in others that reflect the name that most appropriately represents God’s relationship to God’s child and purpose. Could we possibly begin to comprehend the name our Lord would place on another individual? Do we understand the circumstances surrounding this life? Do we have this right to judge? After all, we are ALL part of a bigger Kingdom.

Pastor Lori Tapia: Iglesia Alas de Salvacion, Gilbert, Arizona Immigration and Refugees
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