the power in a name.
Throughout history, names have carried great importance. We see it in the Knights of old. The Noblemen and Gentry. The Ladies and Gentleman of the Court who all enjoyed innumerable benefits, lands and titles that were passed down through the ages – simply because of the title they carried.
So, what is in a name? Why does it carry such power and why is it so important? In the beginning, God named Adam. He didn’t just call him ‘man’ and then call every other male child that was born, ‘man’. Instead, every child born after Adam was given a different name. Why? Because a name carries an expectation of who you are to become, it introduces you into society and ‘it establishes the beginning of a reputation and the whole of that reputation is recalled by the thought or speaking of your name’ (Name Stories & Name Research: Name’s Meaning, by John Dehnart). God went on to ask Adam to name each one of the animals. Each animal received a different name. Why? Because each animal carried different physical characteristics, none were the same.
A name is powerful because:
• It forms the identity of a group.
• It binds people together and creates a sense of belonging.
• It carries the ethos, vision, values, mission and belief systems of a particular community.
• It joins people of like heart together thereby creating a safe environment for them to express themselves.
• It causes recognition of that particular community.
• It is a declaration of what is currently happening and what is to come.
(Just think of how God changed both Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah, as a declaration of what was to come and as a sign of His covenant with them.)
• It carries the seeds of potential, dreams and hopes that the group aspire to. (Just think how carefully a baby’s name is chosen by his/her parents.)• It carries blessing. In ancient times, family names accumulated lands, wealth, favour, rights, family crests and honour. A family name became a statement of who you were and how you conducted your daily life and business affairs. People either came to know the family as honourable or dishonourable – which meant the family name carried shame or respect.
• It describes the people in that particular community. If we just had to think of the many names of God, that each describe a different amazing characteristic of who He is to us.
• It attracts people of a similar heart to the community or ekklesia (meaning ‘called-out ones’).
• It describes the characteristics of the people of that group. In previous years, the surname of a family described their trade and that particular trade and family name were passed down for many years.
• It gives us access where we would not normally have access. We just have to think of the names of the rich and famous, the kings and queens of this world, to know they have access to areas many do not have. But a much more outstanding example is the name of Jesus. At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10). It is because we carry the name of Jesus, that we have access to heaven, salvation, health, prosperity, peace, joy and so much more.
So, the power of a name, lies in the fact that it expresses the very essence or identity of a person, family or community.