My Name Matters, Your Name Matters
Updated: Jun 23
By Jenny Shipley
The following thoughts are in conjunction with a recent article I wrote titled, "The Content of My Character." You can thank my daughter for this post because her favorite movie right now is Moana...and I've watched it and listened to the soundtrack in our car...many...times during quarantine - to say the least!
It's been a strange experience for me lately in these months of Coronavirus - as I watch or listen to Moana. I'm admitting to you all now - I get tears in my eyes sometimes watching and listening to that movie. At first, it caught me by surprise and I would shake my head as the tears formed in my eyes, "Get a hold of yourself" - I would think. But, as I've allowed for our current times to sit within me, the tears make more sense.
One of the last scenes in the movie (spoiler alert if you haven't watched it) - is when Moana confronts Te Fiti. Te Fiti was the name of a benevolent island goddess who later was named, Te Ka. Te Ka became a consuming volcano goddess after her heart was stolen by the demigod, Maui. Moana is chosen by the ocean to return Te Fiti's heart with Maui. In this final scene, Moana, sings this quiet, gentle song:
Ou mata e matagi
I have crossed the horizon to find you
Ou loto mamaina toa
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are
There is another scene where, Moana, while on her search to find Maui - her grandmother's spirit sings these lyrics, with a response from, Moana, as well:
I know a girl from an island She stands apart from the crowd She loves the sea and her people She makes her whole family proud Sometimes the world seems against you The journey may leave a scar But scars can heal and reveal just Where you are The people you love will change you The things you have learned will guide you And nothing on earth can silence The quiet voice still inside you And when that voice starts to whisper Moana, you've come so far Moana, listen Do you know who you are?
Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island I'm the girl who loves the sea It calls me I am the daughter of the village chief We are descended from voyagers Who found their way across the world They call me I've delivered us to where we are I have journeyed farther I am everything I've learned and more Still it calls me And the call isn't out there at all, it's inside me It's like the tide, always falling and rising I will carry you here in my heart you'll remind me That come what may I know the way I am Moana!
Names. I want to talk about names. They are powerful. I don't really understand why. It feels so strange sometimes - that a name can be so strong. Names can really lift you or tear you down.
Names. God has over 100 names for Himself in the Bible. I got this list from UrbanAreas.net:
Almighty– Revelation 1:8
Alpha– Revelation 1:8
Amen– Revelation 3:14
Angel of the Lord– Genesis 16:7
Anointed One– Psalm 2:2
Apostle– Hebrews 3:1
Author and Perfecter of our Faith– Hebrews 12:2
Beginning– Revelation 21:6
Bishop of Souls– 1 Peter 2:25
Branch– Zechariah 3:8
Bread of Life– John 6:35,48
Bridegroom– Matthew 9:15
Carpenter– Mark 6:3
Chief Shepherd– 1 Peter 5:4
The Christ– Matthew 1:16
Comforter– Jeremiah 8:18
Consolation of Israel– Luke 2:25
Cornerstone– Ephesians 2:20
Dayspring– Luke 1:78
Day Star– 2 Peter 1:19
Deliverer– Romans 11:26
Desire of Nations– Haggai 2:7
Emmanuel– Matthew 1:23
End– Revelation 21:6
Everlasting Father– Isaiah 9:6
Faithful and True Witness– Revelation 3:14
First Fruits– 1 Corinthians 15:23
Foundation– Isaiah 28:16
Fountain– Zechariah 13:1
Friend of Sinners– Matthew 11:19
Gate for the Sheep– John 10:7
Gift of God– 2 Corinthians 9:15
God– John 1:1
Glory of God– Isaiah 60:1
Good Shepherd– John 10:11
Governor– Matthew 2:6
Great Shepherd– Hebrews 13:20
Guide– Psalm 48:14
Head of the Church– Colossians 1:18
High Priest– Hebrews 3:1
Holy One of Israel– Isaiah 41:14
Horn of Salvation– Luke 1:69
I Am– Exodus 3:14
Jehovah– Psalm 83:18
Jesus– Matthew 1:21
King of Israel– Matthew 27:42
King of Kings– 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16
Lamb of God– John 1:29
Last Adam– 1 Corinthians 15:45
Life– John 11:25
Light of the World– John 8:12; John 9:5
Lion of the Tribe of Judah– Revelation 5:5
Lord of Lords– 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16
Master– Matthew 23:8
Mediator– 1 Timothy 2:5
Messiah– John 1:41
Mighty God– Isaiah 9:6
Morning Star– Revelation 22:16
Nazarene– Matthew 2:23
Omega– Revelation 1:8
Passover Lamb– 1 Corinthians 5:7
Physician– Matthew 9:12
Potentate– 1 Timothy 6:15
Priest– Hebrews 4:15
Prince of Peace– Isaiah 9:6
Prophet– Acts 3:22
Propitiation– I John 2:2
Purifier– Malachi 3:3
Rabbi– John 1:49
Ransom– 1 Timothy 2:6
Redeemer– Isaiah 41:14
Refiner– Malachi 3:2
Refuge– Isaiah 25:4
Resurrection– John 11:25
Righteousness– Jeremiah 23:6
Rock– Deuteronomy 32:4
Root of David– Revelation 22:16
Rose of Sharon– Song of Solomon 2:1
Ruler of God’s Creation– Revelation 3:14
Sacrifice– Ephesians 5:2
Savior– 2 Samuel 22:47; Luke 1:47
Second Adam– 1 Corinthians 15:47
Seed of Abraham– Galatians 3:16
Seed of David– 2 Timothy 2:8
Seed of the Woman– Genesis 3:15
Servant– Isaiah 42:1
Shepherd– 1 Peter 2:25
Shiloh– Genesis 49:10
Son of David– Matthew 15:22
Son of God– Luke 1:35
Son of Man– Matthew 18:11
Son of Mary– Mark 6:3
Son of the Most High– Luke 1:32
Stone– Isaiah 28:16
Sun of Righteousness– Malachi 4:2
Teacher– Matthew 26:18
Truth– John 14:6
Way– John 14:6
Wonderful Counselor– Isaiah 9:6
Word– John 1:1
Vine– John 15:1
That's a large list, isn't it? Isn't it incredible to think about? That God would want to define His character in this way? In many ways. There is not one blanket statement for God of who He is. And that touches my heart because He knows the minorities' call to be named. For all of us to to have honor in your name and your character.
We all need to listen to the cry for having a name that is honored.
While I live in America, and hear from many Americans that - it almost seems like folks really want to make derogatory naming an American issue (I'm specifically thinking of racism, but this can apply in many parts of any person's character - their wealth, education, etc.). And - by all means - it is the community that is closest to me and I certainly care for it. However, I don't put all the blame into one basket or make it a blanket statement because it really is a timeless struggle that we've had as people. Sometimes - it's not a distant person that hurts us the most, it's maybe our own family or our own friends.
This brings me to two points that make "naming" difficult:
Judgement is NOT ALL bad. Take for example Matthew 7: 1 - 6:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
I appreciate when you hear use this passage to talk about forgiveness and grace, but we can't take out the last part of this statement. There are some circumstances where God wants us to use our judgement in order to protect what is holy, "Do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot." Ugh! It's true. It is hard to balance both not being afraid or judgmental of others (and in this case - to the point where we judge their salvation!), but also keeping guard of our precious souls. How am I supposed to both protect myself AND not judge? It's impossible. I am a woman - a small woman. I photograph weddings and sometimes I'm in downtown KC late at night and have to walk from the venue to my car - with thousands of dollars of equipment. I can't help myself - but if any man or person of ANY color walks towards me...I feel uncomfortable! And I can't apologize for that. God wants me to have an inkling of self-protection to protect my soul - my life. Can you see how this is challenging?
2). Individuality vs. Community.
American culture is saturated with a "me" mentality. As quarantine humbly reminded me, I really do enjoy just being at home. But, gone are the days when our "me" time is boarded up to our homes or even our neighborhoods - now we can take our "me" time and blast it out on to social media, without even looking in to the eyes of our fellow community.
No, God did not intend for us to sit in our homes to dream up our own, individual ways to be "ourselves". God created us to be WE.
Our kids had a piano recital recently (all done with respect to coronavirus) and their instructor prayed a prayer with this thought:
"Thank you, God, for giving us a community with whom we can share our life. Thank you for not just making me. Thank you that you did not stop at one person, but made many people. May we cherish and love our community and productively build our community up."
YES! My heart needed this prayer. You know what - it for sure was nice to not go to church and DEAL with people...but I can tell you right now...We had our first service recently and I wasn't expecting how much I longed to be challenged, to see another person's face, and to communicate directly with someone (with a HUMAN voice and not a SOCIAL MEDIA voice)!
I live in an American community that was founded with Judeo-Christian values and I am so grateful for it. There have certainly been, and we cannot ignore, individual moments in our history that feel like trash, but - Christ, Christ, and Christ - is the answer. And there is not another country or ideology that I'd rather be prescribed (can I please just let it out - I'm completely anti-Marxist). A few things Christ teaches us that contribute to Western ideologies: family, authority, security, love, truth, grace, looking forward, and forgiveness.
Jesus wanted those he kept closet to Him to name Him. Matthew 16: 13 - 20 ERV:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them,“But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied,“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him,“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Jesus wants his disciples to name Him.
The first time we see the name, Christian, it appears in Acts 11: 26. Christian's were given a name that represents being a follower of Jesus.
It is also meaningful to point out the severity of misusing God's name. It is a commandment to use His name with honor and to not take it in vain. So then, can't we also assume that misusing another person's name has the same severity?
I don't know if this helps to have more perspective on the value of your name or of your neighbor's name and why it is so important for all of us - not just here in America - but any where you are...think about that. Think about how you chose to label someone. Try to call a person by their name. Don't use their name or their character or their race (or ...) in a derogatory way because it truly is, for maybe only deep reasons that God understands, tied and connected to some deep part of our soul.
And also - it is important to take an understanding to details of people. I get that we're ALL human. However, just like God wants us to richly define Him - so too do I believe each of us long to be richly defined. It's hard to understand - but I believe it because God does.
I think of that final scene of, Moana, confronting, Te Ka - when you take away a persons' name - it very well may leave a person feeling like a monster - like a consuming volcano. When Te Ka's name is restored to Te Fiti, she is complete and at peace. I think it is also of importance - though the story is fictional - to point out that Maui was not banished into a corner and banished for his mistake, but Moana brought him along side her journey.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time and hope that this will bless some - if only a few.
With Christ, Jenny