What’s in a Name?

Quite incidentally and unknowingly, mimicking professional golfer’s swings when we were kids, we stumbled into a key step in the habit formation process. Naming a particular swing or move the “Nicklaus” or “Trevino” or even something simple like “blue” enables the brain a way to cement the swing in memory. The same works when trying to change a habit. Language is a powerful tool in learning physical movement. 

I have noticed, and you have noticed, too, modern culture has taken Christianity’s language and spoken it pointedly with squinty eyes while saying “those people ought to” or “you ought” with the underlying message “you are not.” Culture’s other tactic is to use God’s language for its own purposes, adjectives suggesting doubt to believers not yet rooted in fertile soil. Common descriptors offer sweet sentiments— recognizable, not too disagreeable—suggesting Christianity is not what it’s cracked up to be. Look at God’s people, “those hypocrites.”  

Underlying all this finger-pointing, culture delivers a Veruca Salt (Willie Wonka) “I want it now” message, a Jesus come down from your cross and perform one of those miracles now sort of demand. But then, it could be worse. Veruca Salt could be indifferent to God.  

The calendar moves on past the equinox and the full moon, past Easter, but Easter never ends, does it? The faithful live Easter every day, live with eyes upward and hearts outward, and yes, falling along the way into weakness. What name shall we give to this living? What should our habit be? 

Once a name is given to new learning, defining a word, a habit, begins the process. There is no immediacy involved. Beginning does not reach an end without a middle. And the middle can be muddy. Rest assured, when Veruca wishes for it now, she desires to skip the middle and asks you to follow. 

Easter is a beginning, a name Christians give to Christ’s death and resurrection. The word’s root in Latin means dawn. A Christian’s life is always dawning, and while each is a beginning again, God wishes us not to rest there. We are called to live out our learning, to live according to Christ’s example. 

Christ came to fulfill, the depth and meaning of which God is still teaching me. He came not for the here-and-now, not for power, not to be served, but to serve. Christ did for me what I cannot do for myself. He claimed me on the cross. And now, I claim Him in a way I cannot rest.  

“If for life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19, NRSV). 

How should I define this restlessness, but to hope beyond life, to live with an eternal perspective. Easter never ends for the living. The middle is muddy. I strive to live by His defined life. 

What name should I be called, but Christian, even hypocrite. What habit should I form, but to serve.  

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV). 

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