Faith- 11/8/18

What’s Your Name?

By Pastor Ron Buxton

A young tourist was walking through China Town in Boston, and noticed an unusual storefront sign: “Hans Olaffsen’s Laundry”. Obviously, you would not have expected to see a Norwegian name there. This was just too strange for the young tourist, so he went inside to investigate.

“Excuse me”, he said, “Why is this business named ‘Hans Olaffsen’s Laundry’?”

“That’s my name!”, responded an elderly Chinese man behind the counter.

“How did you ever get that name?” asked the puzzled tourist.

The old Chinese man began his story by saying, “Many years ago, I came as an immigrant into this country from Hong Kong. And I was standing in a long line right behind a tall European man. His name was Hans Olaffsen. When he stepped up to the immigration officer, she asked him: ‘What is your name?’ He said: ‘Hans Olaffsen’. So she wrote that down.

After he left, she pointed to me to come forward, and asked me the same question: ‘What is your name?’ I told her my Chinese name which is ‘Saim Theen”—so she wrote down ‘Hans Olaffsen’! Ever since that day, it’s my legal name in the United States!

Although that story is very funny, I realize that there is a darker side to “re-naming” people in our society. In fact, it seems that the current political environment has made it worse. Truthfully—only God can help us now!

The old childhood saying: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie from the pits of hell! We all know that, and yet we try to ignore its significance. But I learned just how venomous name-calling could be among many street kids in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. You see, I worked almost half a decade with children that society had basically thrown away. And, for example, as an assistant director at an orphanage, I ministered to hundreds of those forgotten (yet precious) kids. Now, you would like to think that the emotional conditions at an orphanage would be heavenly. However, “hurt people hurt people”—no matter what their size. And that was certainly the case among those little children.

To hear them talk among themselves was painful. Imagine the worst bullying and name-calling you might have experienced on the playground. It was ten times worse! Only in Spanish, not English. And although great anger and sadness arose within me, it also taught me a very valuable spiritual lesson.

You need to know that the only person with whom your name is important—is the very One who made you! Psalm 100:3 tells us that truth! In fact, through the regeneration of Christ—which we call being “born again”—you can get a new name! Think of it like a “spiritual adoption”—which it really is. God can change your name! At that point, it doesn’t matter what others have called you. Are you tired of all the name-calling? Let Christ rename you. And not just for now—but forever!


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