In various countries around the world it is customary to select a new first name when one converts to Christianity. Commonly referred to as the “Christian name,” it is carefully considered before being chosen. Much like naming a child, the meaning and history of the name are important. Often times the names of prophets, disciples or other titans of faith are selected. It symbolizes rebirth and a new identity in Christ.
A young man in Indonesia came to know the Lord and planned to be baptized. He was set to announce his Christian name right after he came out of the water. Before that moment, it would be his secret to keep. He had been part of a religion that was very closed to hearing the Gospel, so it was an exciting time in his life and for the missionary who led him to the Lord. It was always special to learn what name a person had chosen. This young man’s conversion had been hard won, so it was particularly meaningful.
The moment arrived, and as the missionary proudly stood beside the drenched young man, he asked, “What is your new name?” The man replied, “Cinderella!”.
We could hear that story and chuckle or even tell it to someone else if we thought it was funny enough. But let’s not miss the value of the moment. He picked the name because it was the one he most closely associated with transformation. It was the name he believed best demonstrated how he had experienced Christ’s deliverance from his past life into the hope of eternity. Isn’t that the crux of faith in Jesus?
Last Sunday, our pastors taught on the story of Jacob, a scammer who swindled his way through life and associated with others like himself. In Genesis 32, he has a physical encounter with God while hiding from the brother he wronged. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. He is the father of Joseph and is listed in the genealogy of Christ. His name, Israel, appears throughout the Old and New Testaments as a synonym for God’s chosen people. Quite a transformation, wouldn’t you agree? You might even call it a “Cinderella story”.
If you have never given your life to Christ, you are missing the greatest opportunity ever offered (John 3:16). If you are already a believer and are struggling today, take heart.
“God meets us at whatever level He finds us in order to lift us to where He wants us to be.”
— Warren Wiersbe, Be Authentic: Exhibiting Real Faith in the Real World
Our Father has the power to change your story. If you are a believer and in a season of blessing, give thanks. God is the source of every good gift (James 1:17) and the one who gives what we need to prosper (Deuteronomy 8:17).
We have the opportunity today and every day forward to be changed from the inside out by encountering God. He is the same God today who wrestled with Jacob thousands of years ago. He is willing to be just as close to you, just as life-changing for you. What will be your new name?