In Biblical times people were identified by their first names, last names were uncommon. To help identify and distinguish individuals, the name of the father (or mother on rare occasions) was added. So, for me, I would have been known as Glenn, the son of Mark, the son of Abraham (my grandpa’s name). Additionally, around the time of the Greek and Roman Empires, last names were also sometimes based upon where you were from, hence, Jesus of Nazareth, or Glenn of Bowie. During the middle ages, last names in much of Europe went by the wayside, as most common people didn’t travel very far from home and everyone, knew everyone else—but as the populations and towns grew so did the need to identify or distinguish one person named John from another named John. Some were still based on the name of their father, such as Johnson, Thomason, O’Henry, or MacDonald. Some last names were identified with occupation, such as Miller, Smith, Baker, Cooper (barrel maker), or Chandler (candle-maker). I could have been known as Glenn Preacher. Other’s were descriptive based on a person’s physical features, such as Brown, Short, Black, Beard, or Long (what about Glenn the Balding).
I am writing about this because I heard a song this week on the radio, by artist Matthew West titled, “Hello, My Name Is.” In this song he sings, “Hello, my name is child of the one true King. I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free. ‘Amazing Grace’ is the song I sing. Hello, my name is child of the one true King. I am no longer defined by all the wreckage behind. The one who makes all things new, has proven it’s true, just take a look at my life. What love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called His children. I am a child of the one true King.”
Names are used to identify who are you are. I am Glenn. But more importantly, and regardless of what your name is, as a Christian, we have a new identity. Paul will tell his readers in Galatians 3:26, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons [and daughters] of God, through faith.” And, John reminds us in 1 John 3:1, that we are loved and that we are the children of God, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Just remember, your geneaology, birth certificate, driver’s license and passport aren’t the only things that identify who you are.