Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11
The Name of Jesus
Are you comfortable with Jesus’ name? Mentioning the name of Jesus reaps contradictory responses. For some His name stirs reverence and joy and in others it causes irritation and mistrust.
During book signings I see two camps of people. Some will look at my Christian author sign and make a beeline straight towards my table. I also watch others who look at my sign, try not to make eye contact, and turn quickly away.
Our responses are never lukewarm when hearing or seeing anything associated with the name of Jesus.
I understand both sides of the response because I lived on both sides of the response.
My Weird Neighbor
I believed in God since I was a little girl, but I didn’t know anyone inside or outside of church that mentioned Jesus’ name with any regularity. My parents certainly didn’t mention His name in our home, and my friends and their families didn’t either.
That all changed when my neighbor became a believer.
I thought my neighbor was weird. She was the mom of my good friends, and I practically lived at their house. After her very noticeable conversion into a born again believer, she spoke Jesus’ name all of the time. When she mentioned His name in praises or in cries of need, I just chalked it up to her being odd and over the top.
It made me uncomfortable.
The church I went to talked about God and Jesus with reverence. I envisioned God and Jesus way up in the sky in a place I could never touch or reach.
My neighbor mentioned Jesus as if He stood right beside her, and it didn’t jive with my budding beliefs. No one else I knew casually threw His name around saying, “Thank you, Jesus!” and “Praise you, Jesus!” She said things like this in every context imaginable.
It was maddening, and it didn’t feel right.
Yelling Jesus’ Name
During this same time period, Christian TV personalities were in their heyday asking for money. Women with tear-streaked mascara and men with hands thrown in the air yelled Jesus’ name as they begged listeners to save them from destruction.
I saw people standing on buckets on street corners yelling Jesus’ name to people walking by warning them of their damnation. I never understood why they did this because no one ever stopped to listen. People just walked swiftly past as if they didn’t see or hear the bucket-person preaching.
These experiences solidified in my young mind that speaking Jesus’ name outside the context of church aligned you with these weird and inauthentic people. If you mentioned Jesus’ name, you were just as weird and misguided as these people.
I wouldn’t mention His name. It made me feel different, awkward, and foreign. I hoped no one expected me to be screaming His name, too! My confused brain couldn’t comprehend the embarrassment and guilt I felt at hearing the name of Jesus.
Learning Jesus’ Name
Maybe some of these people weren’t showing a positive example of who Jesus is, but they did have one thing right; we should never be ashamed of His name.
He is not up in the heavens looking down at us like ants, and He doesn’t want our money given to those who would abuse it for their purposes. Jesus isn’t calling us to beat up other people by using His name as a weapon or showboating His name to prove we are holy.
When I fully gave my life to Christ, I felt the sudden shift of emotions His name stirred in me because I began to experience the hope and love that belongs to His name even when life brings storms. I understood the desire to speak the name of Jesus above all other names once I opened my arms and accepted Him from head to toe.
Looking back at my neighbor, she started to make a little more sense to me.
What’s in a Name?
Have you ever cringed when a pregnant friend or family member revealed the very odd name they chose for their unborn child? You smile and nod and bite the inside of your cheek trying to keep your face from giving away how you really feel about the name. We think, “That poor baby!”
Once that baby is born and we fall in love with this gift, the name seems to fit them perfectly. We couldn’t think of a better name for this precious life if we tried.
It’s the same with Jesus. A friend or family member who mentions His name makes us squirm because we don’t know Jesus. When we are reborn into His light, we gain eyes to see His face and ears to hear His voice for the first time in our lives.
When we meet Jesus, we can’t think of a name more perfect or precious than His name. We are infants in our faith and His hand is right there reaching for us. He is never too far away to touch or reach.
The feeling of awkwardness about His name begins to dissolve.
Loving His Name
He is a friend of ours who has a name that we can call upon at any time. We call upon His name in the worship of our gratefulness and in the throws of our fears. I was interviewed on overcoming fear in the name of our Father. You can read it here.
His name is precious and the only way we realize this is when we enter into our own personal relationship with Him. Our name is just as precious to Him, and Jesus will never feel weird or awkward calling out our name.
He loved us and knew us since the beginning of time, so now it’s our time to know His name.
As a child, I didn’t understand. As someone who is growing and learning, I can’t think of any other name as beautiful as Jesus.
I’m just sorry it took me into adulthood to learn this truth.
Jesus’s name truly puts a line in the sand. His name above any other name exposes our hearts. His name elicits strong emotions, and it unmasks which side of the line we choose to stand upon.
I am so grateful I stand on the side where His name brings me to my knees in worship, and my tears flow without embarrassment.
I can’t wait to praise His name into eternity.
How does the name of Jesus make you feel?
I recommend this song any chance I get. That line in the sand will bring a different reaction to different people when listening to this song. It’s called “Speak the Name” sung my Koryn Hawthorne and Natalie Grant at the Dove Awards. Spectacular!