Discipleship Guest Bloggers revelation

Your True Name (Skye Jethani)

Today most names are chosen based on a parent’s preference or popularity. But in the ancient world, a person’s name was believed to be the essence of their identity.

by Skye Jethani 

In Revelation 2, Jesus speaks to his people struggling under great persecuted. He promises to give them “a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). The meaning of this stone and the new name is rooted in ancient symbolism. Courts in the first century often cast judgments with colored stones—white for innocent and black for guilty. The white stone offered by Christ is a declaration of innocence—our right standing with him and acceptance into his presence.

But what about the new name? Today most names are chosen based on a parent’s preference or popularity. But in the ancient world, a person’s name was believed to be the essence of their identity. George MacDonald, explains, “The true name is the one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol—his soul’s picture, in a word-—the sign which belongs to him and no one else. Who can give a man this, his true nature? God alone. For no one but God sees what a man is.”

We look for our true identity, our “soul’s picture,” in many things. The culture tells us it can be found in accomplishments, relationships, or possessions. Scripture tells us something very different. Our true identity cannot be discovered or constructed; it can only be received. It is given to us by the only One who can see what we truly are. To have our Maker give us our true name includes something more. As MacDonald says, “To tell the name is to seal the success—to say ‘In thee also I am well pleased.’” Along with our true name, Christ also gives us his affirmation and love.

Skye is one of my favorite authors and thinkers, and hosts my favorite weekly podcast “The Holy Post” discussing culture and faith in fun and enlightening manner. Check it out here!

Jeremy Berg is the founding pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Mound, Minnesota, and Professor of Theology at Solid Rock Discipleship School. Jeremy is completing his doctorate in New Testament Context under Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary in Chicago. He holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary (2005) and B.A. from Bethel University (2002). He and his wife, Kjerstin, keep busy chasing around three kids, Peter, Isaak and Abigail.

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