It is without a doubt that the church as we have known it is under attack. Christians are not being crucified — at least, not yet — but it is evident that the faith of those who embrace Christianity is being challenged.
In the 1970s a film called “Jesus Christ, Superstar” about the conflict between Jesus and Judas leading up to his crucifixion was a sensation in the country. The actors who played them respectively were nominated for Golden Globe Awards. This was also a period of time that the church was also under attack by those who sought to make a mockery of those who believed in the existence of a God.
A recent study indicated that young people today are not as devout in their faith as their parents. They point out the fact that, to them, church leaders are less likely to become actively involved in ameliorating society’s many ills and most concerned about building mega churches. They often complain that going to church is similar to going to a place of entertainment where the pastor is in fact, the superstar.
If this is a major belief among young people, something has to change. Jesus wants us to follow him, but He is not in the entertainment business. You will feel it when he calls you.
When Jesus Christ calls us to come follow Him, we leave our old life behind and become a new man in Christ. The new creature we become sometimes receives a new name revealed to us by God.
The purpose of the new name is to separate us from our old life of being in bondage to sin. We are not the same person after Jesus Christ calls us out of the world to be His ambassadors. It is written in 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become New.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-KJV)
We must start a new life with a new identity. Our scriptural foundation can be found in John 3: 3 (KJV): “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man Be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Our name changes because God renames us. We become Christians, empowered with a new mission in life — to become a soldier in the army of the Lord. There is no intent to defraud or deceive anyone. Many men and women in the Bible were actually given new names by the Lord.
Some notable examples from the Bible are Abram who became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah and Jacob became Israel. Two famous New Testament name changes occurred when Jesus named Simon-Cephas (Peter) and Saul of Tarsus became Apostle Paul.
When Simon the fisherman was introduced to the Messiah, the Lord immediately recognized the latent power of the fisherman and gave him the name of Cephas (Peter), which means “the rock.” When Peter displayed weakness, Jesus addressed him by his old surname rather than by the name that meant “rock.”
Saul was the man who persecuted Christ’s followers, breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord. He even applied to the High Priest for letters authorizing him to arrest anyone he found who followed the new way.
On his way to Damascus, he had a vision in which Jesus Christ asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Shortly after his vision, Saul of the Pharisees became Paul of the Nazarenes. It is with great irony that a man who was literally blinded with hatred of Christians became the great Apostle of Christ.
Although many were initially suspicious of Paul’s transformation, we know that he was serious enough to pay the ultimate sacrifice for his belief in our Lord, Jesus Christ, when he lost his life by crucifixion under Roman Emperor Nero in and around A.D.64.
The Pharisee from Tarsus had become the most impressive figure of early Christianity. Martyrdom ended his early mission, but his immortal Epistles, the first theological writings, and the dozens of churches he founded survives as the foundation of a religion we embrace as Christianity.
It is not too late to change our life. No matter, our sins and transgressions, we can take them to the Lord in prayer — He will forgive us and we too, can be soldiers in the army of the Lord.
Do you desire a name change today? Pray to God — He will do it for you.
Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at [email protected]