What’s in a Name?

[A fragrant aroma]

Roll call was always very revealing.  Names were quickly put to faces, and no response to a name called, always signalled that someone was missing.  In order to learn however, your presence and full attention is  required.  I found this out in grade three, when I was pulled out of my lessons to travel to California with my family.  Our trip included a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, San Diego Zoo, and Disney Land. (Well worth the break from class!)  In this time period though, my times tables were interrupted. When I returned to my studies, catching up again would prove difficult for me. (Still, very worth it! Calculators work just great!)  Some lessons, however, deserve much more attention and better attendance.  Life and faith are two of those great lessons.

Back in school, it always bothered me when someone assumed my full name was Christina.  My birth certificate, however, does in fact read Tina, not Christina as most mistakenly assume.  This always frustrated me and I would quickly correct them when they asked–that is to say, it bothered me until later in life.  Many years after I became a Christian, I’d grown curious about the meaning behind my own name, and I sought to find the answer.

The first time I did my research, what I came up with was this: Tina on it’s own holds no real significants.  (At least at the time I originally searched for it I couldn’t find that meaning.) Because of this, I had to associate my name with it’s English origin. (My own ancestry.)  I had to concede that my name was a derivative of the name I had always denied, and even resented. However, I also was soon overjoyed to find that Christina in fact means Christian. (In other words, follower of Christ.)

Wikipedia states, that Tina on its own is an old English name meaning river.  I love this because God once spoke to me in my deepest despair, “Feel my living water flow.”  That living water is the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives to those who believe, and are repentant. I’ve indeed felt that living water flowing from me through the years as God has put people and words on my heart.

There are several meanings to my name in Hindi but  “Clay” took me by surprise: a very pleasant surprise to be more precise.    Being that God is the “Potter” and I am the “Clay” I find this particular meaning very encouraging and it feels like further assurance that He will continue working on me. (Scripture also backs this up: Philippians 1:6 ) From a young age I loved to mold things from clay myself and as an adult my husband and I have worked with clay.  

Often throughout scripture, God gave people new names. This occured throughout the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament.  God never changes, so even Jesus called His followers by the name He chose for them.  While my name is still very much Tina, to me now, it takes on a whole new meaning (meanings even).  In the future, a new name will be presented to all who’ve overcome. (Revelation 2:17) This is what Scripture has to say about those who overcome:

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. –1 John 5:5

Jesus Christ’s name is full of meaning as well; Jesus means: Savior, and Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning: anointed or chosen one, therefore Jesus Christ means: the chosen/anointed Savior.  Throughout scripture Jesus is called by many names.  In fact, Messiah was the name used by those who were expecting Him, which means: promised deliverer.  Jesus was also referred to as: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; Lord; Master; Teacher; Son of God; Son of Man; Son of David; as well as Lamb of God, signifying that Jesus was the perfect and ultimate sacrifice.  The names given to Jesus are many, so the list goes on.  How fitting for a King who Himself lovingly calls His followers by the name He gives them (as we so often do ourselves, with those whom we feel that kinship for as well).

Though Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” had Juliet stating that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet,  the name we choose to live our life by can in fact have a significant impact on who we become. By any other name than the name of Jesus,  surely we will not smell as sweet.  On the other hand, whatever we call Jesus, whether it is Lord, Teacher, King, or Messiah,  He is no less a fragrant offering.

“Live lovingly, just as the Messiah also loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice, a fragrant aroma to God.”  (Ephesians 5:2)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

–Romeo and Juliet – Act 2 Scene 2

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