Summary: How will the child of God be known throughout eternity? The Word of God hints at the transformation and testifies to the importance of God’s knowledge of who we are.
Your name is important. Perhaps your name reveals the aspirations your parents had for you; perhaps it speaks of their honour for some other person who bore the name before you. Whatever their intention may have been in naming you as they did, your name has come to reflect your character, for good or for evil. What you are called speaks of how people view you. But in the congregation of the Lord, your name speaks of who you shall be eternally because of God’s grace and mercy.
“Greet the friends by name.” There is a wealth of theology in that brief charge. I don’t want anyone to fall into a trap that leads to beating themselves up because they cannot remember names, but one’s name is important. To use the name of an individual is to acknowledge esteem for the individual. And to use the name of an individual is to honour that person.
“Greet the friends by name,” for each one who is a friend in Christ shall receive a new name in glory. They shall reveal the perfection of His salvation.
YOU ARE KNOWN BY NAME — I am struck, as you should be, by God’s knowledge of His own. I know that He knows all about me. The Psalmist has testified:
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.”
With perfect knowledge, should it surprise you that God knows your name?
However, God is concerned with the individual, and not merely with a crowd. We forget that sometimes; but it is always to our detriment to forget this fact. There exists among churches an emphasis upon getting a crowd—we speak of this as “building the church.” However, may I remind you that a crowd is not a church? A mob is not a church. While there is indeed a corporate aspect of a congregation, each church is composed of individuals whom God places as He wills in that Body. This is obvious from even a casual reading of the Apostle’s words.
“The body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.”
Focus on the summation of Paul’s instruction concerning the composition of the Body. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” [1 CORINTHIANS 12:14-27]. Each Christian is indeed responsible to recognise the Body of Christ—the congregation where the Lord is working and wherein He has placed them. However, no one dare lose sight of the individual in the growth of the Body, for the individual is important. If the individual is important to God, how much more important should they be to us?
When Israel had left Egyptian bondage and travelled into the desert, Moses took a census. Recall the instructions concerning that census as provided in the Book of Numbers. “The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, ‘Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company’” [NUMBERS 1:1-3]. Individuals were important to God, and they were to be listed by their names.