Summary: Does simply claiming the name of Christ make you a Christian?
Do you like your name? And if you do now did you always like your name? As a teenager how did you feel about it? I heard two Jr. High girls talking in a mall once and one asked “Do you like your name?” To which the other replied, “No I hate my name” and the first girl said, “Yeah I hate mine too.” I think it's a fact of life that most of us hate our name at some point in our lives, probably because of the way our parents abuse it, “Dennison Vance you get in here right now you have some explaining to do”
Yep my first name is indeed Dennison, I was named after my father’s uncle. But I have never gone by Dennison and other than times when we had a supply teacher in class or when my parents thought I had misbehaved I have never been called Dennison. That’s not a hundred percent true, Austin White called me Dennison when he was little.
Had I been born 32 days later my name probably would have been Stephen because a month and a day after I was born my Grandfather Stephen was killed in an industrial accident.
But my name hasn’t been static, for the first 18 years of my life I went by Denny, when I went away to college I thought it was time to grow up so I started going by Den. D.e.n. just one “n”.
I had an interesting conversation with a person in Australia just before we moved home in 1994, they asked what Den was short for and I told them, they asked me how Dennison was spelled and I told them. And then they asked “well shouldn’t Den have two ‘Ns’?” To be truthful I had never thought about it before. So when we arrived in Bedford to start Cornerstone in August of 1994 I became Denn with 2 “ns”.
When I went to work at my first church in 1981 I discovered for some people my name was simply “Pastor” in 1984 we added an addition to our home and the name he called me was “daddy” a year and a half ago I got a new name and it was “grampy” as opposed to the times Angela simply refers to me as “grumpy”. A pastor friend of mine was asked if he ever woke up grumpy and he replied “sometimes and sometimes I let her sleep in.” But that is a different story.
But I am really not defined by my name, I like it now, it’s different, kind of like me. But I think that the Bard was right when he said William Shakespeare “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Which might be why Gertrude Stein wrote “A rose is a rose is a rose.”
Some people are very proud of their names, in particular their surname, I have a friend in Truro by the last name of Wallace who lays claim to a relationship with William Wallace of Brave Heart fame. But that is really outside of our control isn’t it. It was the Czech author Milan Kundera who wrote “We don't know when our name came into being or how some distant ancestor acquired it. We don't understand our name at all, we don't know its history and yet we bear it with exalted fidelity, we merge with it, we like it, we are ridiculously proud of it as if we had thought it up ourselves in a moment of brilliant inspiration.”
And that was all said to lead into our message this morning. Our scripture begins with an interesting story. Jesus and his apostles have come to Capernaum and Jesus is teaching them a lesson about the Kingdom when John suddenly bursts into the room let’s pick up the story there. Mark 9:38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.” Remember a couple of weeks ago I spoke about the 12 Apostles and mentioned how Jesus had nicknamed John and his brother James “The Sons of Thunder”? It was John who wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn up a village in Samaria that didn’t welcome Jesus and his followers and now he is forbidding someone from doing good in Jesus name.
And we really don’t know what the issue was. Maybe John thought he was doing the right thing, he might very well of thought that the guy was out of line, he didn’t know him so he assumed that Jesus didn’t know him and that he didn’t know Jesus. John may have thought that when Jesus said “Follow me” that he was only talking in the physical sense, that you could only follow Jesus if you could see him and be with him in the here and now. If that was the case then Jesus’ followers would never have been able to expand past that a few hundred people isolated in a particular point in history.