What’s in a Name? Plus, a Sweet First-Day-of-School Game!

March 6, 2009

Today’s post is a two-parter, just because either of them by themselves wouldn’t make a real full post.

First, I want to ask, what’s in a name? We don’t get to choose our own birth names, but there are a couple of very big names that we get to choose that shape our Christian walk.

What do you call God?
I’ve discovered that it’s not just the Bible that has many dozens of names for God. People all seem to have a ‘pet name’ for God that they are most comfortable with. It’s what we call God that helps give him his shape to us in our prayers. Some people relate to God easily as a child speaking to a father. Some people seem to put themselves in the role of a very tiny child by using the more affectionate sounding words ‘Dad,’ ‘Daddy,’ or ‘Abba.’

Curiously, a lot of the people who like to call God ‘Father’ a lot tend to talk to God the way a child talks to a parent when they pray out loud.

Child: (to dad): Dad, I want that. Dad, look! I want Fruit Loops, Dad! Dad, I can do a somersault; look Dad! Dad, you’re not looking! Dad DAD! DAD!

Christian: (praying): Father God, I just thank you and Father I bless your name, Father. And Father God, please help me to do your will, Father. Father, FATHER, FATHER!

Other people like to talk to Jesus more. Like he’s a friend, or homeboy, or boyfriend. Some people prefer the image of a king, Savior, Messiah.

What we call God really reflects and shapes how we interact with him. Now, question two:

What do you call yourself?
For a lot of us, ‘Christian’ is still an appropriate word to call ourselves. But thanks to our personal shortcomings as human beings, some people think the word has been poisoned. People outside the church have an idea of what a ‘Christian’ is, and they don’t like it. It’s something like:

Narrow-minded
Hypocrite
Bigoted
Fundamentalist
Homophobic
Republican

So some people take on other names like Christ-follower or Disciple. This seems to provide a clean slate for Christians when making friends with non-Christ-followers. It sounds hip and trendy like ‘postmodern.’ Their new non-Christ-follower-friends think they know what a ‘Christian’ is, but they don’t know what a ‘Christ-follower’ is. (Hint: they’re pretty much the same, once you get to know them.)

Of course, this is no new phenomenon. Lots of people replace ‘Christian’ with a ‘better’ word. Like Baptist.

Just as an aside, I spent the last three years at a Baptist seminary, and I have all the respect in the world for them. They are truly solid people. But I learned a new phrase while I was there. Everything that pertains to them as a group is called ‘Baptist life.’ I had never heard that in any other denomination. Is this a trend in your denomination?

Personally, I’m still a Christian. It just works for me.

Now, get ready to comment on that thought, but before you do…

Part Two: First Day of School Game
I always hated the first day of school because I knew the day would be full of awkward get-to-know-you games. It may involve throwing a ball around the room or wandering aimlessly in a ‘scavenger hunt’ for people with similar characteristics, but whatever it was, it was bound to be painful.

The other day, Katdish asked me a question, and while it was completely out of left field and a little creepy, I realized that you, my faithful readers know very little about me personally, and likewise I know very little about you.

In the interest of pumping up the ‘community’ aspect of this blog, I’ve got a little ‘get-to-know-you-game.’ This one will be different from those you remember for three key reasons:

1. We are not in junior high.
2. We are NOT in junior high.
3. Everyone likes to plug their blog.

So, here is the way it works. This is your opportunity to ‘introduce’ yourself to our little group. Just ask a question of me. It can be (almost) anything. Then you answer it of yourself. One question per person!

Some hints: do not ask for my personal address. Nothing dirty or political. Them’s the rules.

On Monday, I’ll post answers to your questions along with your name and a link to your blog. So you get a little reward! If you come up with some ridiculous question, everyone will be like, ‘Wow, that person is crazy, or something. I want to read his blog!’ But you have to answer it yourself, or no credit, and no post! If I choose to decline your question, I’ll still post it and a very good reason why I decline, but that probably won’t happen, so you still get rewarded for participating. Just don’t make me regret it.

Fire away!