Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Gen. 32:28)
As an expectant mom, baby name lists drew my attention. Should our baby be named after someone or have meaning? My parents wanted simple names that were easy to spell. My sister wanted to name her baby Philip, but since it was a girl, she named her Phelina. I decided on biblical names.
At birth, Jacob grabbed twin Esau’s heal. His name was derived from this action and means “to supplant.” Jesus taught us in Scripture that if we confess our wrongs, he will forgive and not condemn. When Jacob said his name, he confessed his deceitfulness. Jesus also taught that with confession, he would cleanse us from unethical behavior and remove our transgressions from us. Jacob became a new man with a new name from God. Israel means “a prince of God” or “triumphant with God.” Israel would become the name of the Jewish nation.
Names are important and often define who we are. When we become believers in Jesus’ sacrifice, our faults no longer have control over us. We have a new relationship with God and a new name—Christian. It means “follower of Christ.” We, too, can be triumphant when we recognize that God is with us, not against us. What does the name Christian mean to you? Do you see Christ in yourself? Do others see Christ in you? We are to be like him.
Embrace the name Christian.
Dale Witkowski is a lay pastor, sanctuary steward, blog contributor, and Sunday school teacher at Horseheads Community Wesleyan Church in New York. She is also an artist and a poet.
© 2021 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.