I have to confess, this past Sunday when we Baptized Richard and Lee, there was a part of me that really wanted to give them new names. Your name was Richard, but from now you will be known as…I resisted the urge.
However, I wanted to point out the significance of changing names in the Bible.
Early in John, (1:42) Jesus changed the name of one of His disciples. Simon, which means “God has heard,” became Peter, which means “rock” or stone.
In Genesis, God changed Abram’s name, which meant “High father,” to Abraham which means “Father of many nations.”
Later in Genesis, Jacob, whose name meant “holder of the heel” because when he was born he was holding onto his twin brothers heel, also got a new name. After he spent a night wrestling with God, (Gen. 32:28) He got the name “Israel” which means “God contended” because he struggled with God and men and won.
As you may have gathered, when God changes someones name in the Bible, it’s significant. And the main significance of that name change is to denote a life change that make them completely different people.
It was kind of like they were being reborn. “From this point on you shall be known as…” It’s as if they are beginning a new life, a new journey, a new phase. And because of this new path they are going on, God gave them a new name that would define the next phase of their life.
The Apostle Paul actually did this for himself. We don’t have a record of God changing his name. But we know that his name was Saul when he was persecuting the church. And then in Acts 13:9 he becomes Paul. It’s an interesting change and one that is quite fitting. He went from being Saul, named after the first king of Israel; to being called Paul a name that meant humble or low.
So, how does this apply to us as the church formerly known as Whipple Creek? Does it mean that all the stuff God did in and through Whipple Creek wasn’t good? Of course not. Neither did it mean that when God changed someone’s name in the Bible. It wasn’t as though God condemned the lives of Abram and Jacob. Nor did Jesus put down who Simon was. For us as a church, we are not looking back on who we were with contempt or anger. Actually, we are thankful.
We are thankful for what God did while we were known as Whipple Creek Church. Because just as in all these stories, God is using that history to set us up for the future He has in mind for us.
And he does have a future in mind for us as a church. He has a plan He wants us to accomplish. He has a purpose He wants us to be about. And that’s why we’re changing our name. Because the purpose God has given us to be about is that new name: Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly.
So, we’re not losing the things that made us Whipple Creek. Instead, we’re focusing in on them with greater intensity. We are focusing in on what God wants us to do and who He wants us to be as a church. We don’t want to just kind of do church in whatever haphazard ways comes to mind that week. We want to be focused on it like a laser. We want to be so committed to it, that as God empowers us to move, we see Him move in supernatural ways that only He can take the credit for.
And we want the world to know what we’re about as a church. We want them to be able to see our name and know that’s the church that does justice, loves mercy and walks humbly. We want them to be able to know that by the lives we’re living. We want them to be able to know that by the ministry we are doing. We want them to be able to know that by the way that we love them.
From this point on, we will be known as SixEight Church. And as we begin this new journey, let’s begin with faith. Faith that God is going to use us to accomplish great things for His Kingdom. Let’s begin with faith that believes in the great future God has for us even if we can’t see it yet. Because it’s out there. The unbelievable future God has in mind for us is just down the road.
From this point on, we will be known as SixEight Church. And it is not a death of who we were, instead a rebirth into who God wants us to be.