Be Ye Transformed

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
One of the most humbling experiences I have had in over fifteen years in the mission field is being asked to give an older, just-converted, former Hindu a new name. After some thought, I suggested “Andrew” and told of the brother of Simon Peter whose first recorded “Christian” act was to bring his own sibling to the Lord.
Since “naming” Andrew, I have learned that it is very common for those won from other religions to desire to change their name. There are very good reasons for this practice. Many names have religious connotations. They may be the name of a diety, a prophet, or respected leader of the previous religion, or they may invoke doctrines or concepts basic to that faith. To one who now professes faith in Christ, such identification is inappropriate, to say the least.
It is hard for me to conceive of a more practical application of the text cited above. Not that we must or even should take the name “Jesus” as our personal designation. But, how better to do all in the name of being a Christian than to adopt a name that immediately identifies us with our religion? Especially if the name we have previously borne does that with regard to a different and contrary faith.
Similarly, is this not an imminently practical application of Paul’s admonition?
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Obviously our physical name is not what Paul had specifically in mind in either of these texts. But the converts in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and elsewhere who repudiate their previous beliefs by renouncing the names which are associated with them, have a good understanding of what it means both to wear the name Christian and to be transformed from the mold imposed by this world. It means rejection of anything that binds one to error and sin. And it means to eagerly embrace every means of identifying ourselves with Jesus and his love. What name do we wear? With whom does it identify us? Perhaps it is time for us to search for simple, practical means of letting all the world know to whom we belong, and of helping to keep ourselves committed to our course.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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