I am reflecting on names and their significance. Following on from Part 1 and Part 2, here is a worked example, reflecting on my middle name, Christopher.
Christopher means ‘to bear (carry) Christ.’
In John 15, Jesus says that if we abide in him, we will bear fruit – our lives will be fruitful.
In Galatians 6:17, Paul speaks of bearing on his body the wounds of Christ, and in 1 Peter 4:16 Peter speaks of suffering for bearing Christ’s name. Something about bearing Christ – his wounds, his name – has to do with suffering, but also with vindication and even joy in the face of that suffering. They speak of a closeness to Christ that results in fruit that lasts.
On the other hand, the Bible also speaks of bearing other things: bearing blame (Genesis 43:8-10); bearing a grudge (Leviticus 19:18); bearing a crushed spirit (Proverbs 18:14). These are things we can bear other than, or in place of, bearing Christ...and they are not good things to bear.
And so my expectation as one whose name – whose identity – includes ‘Christopher’ is that the Shepherd wants me to know fruitfulness in the face of suffering, and that the thief will try to provoke me to take on blame, grudges, and (ultimately; as a result) a crushed spirit instead...That this is part of the manifestation of the battle over my identity...And that I need to actively refuse (and be helped by those around me to refuse) to take on these alternative burdens.
Lord, show me where I bear blame, so that I may lay it down before you. Show me where I bear a grudge, that I may leave it at your feet. Show me where my spirit has been crushed, that I may know your healing and wholeness. And help me to bear Christ in the world, knowing his fruit even in the midst of suffering. Amen.
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