You and I know existence to be experiential or material. In the ancient world, something existed when it had a function, or a role to play. This was often designated with a name, because a name stated it's role to play. In the beginning, we see this taking place when God created. He spoke creation into being by naming it. In the Garden, God brought forth all of the animals for Adam to name.
In the Western American culture, we don't see or understand the importance of names. We name our kids (or pets) something that we think is "cool" and has a "nice ring to it." In most other cultures, and in biblical times, names were not carelessly thrown about. They were carefully considered, and made sure that the meaning meant something.
As Stony preached on Sunday, a name will tell someone about your future. A name will tell someone where you're from. A name will tell someone how you live your life. Naming is a practice handed down to God--it means something.
Stony's key scripture was Genesis 32:22-28. He talked about Jacob wrestling with God and the question "What is your name," coming up. It wasn't that God wanted Jacob to confirm His identity, but He wanted Him to face his reality. Jacob means "deceiver." If you're familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau, Jacob stole the birthright from Esau by blackmailing him, and then stole the blessing of the firstborn with the help of his mother (Genesis 25).
When God asked Jacob "What is your name?" He was asking him to confront everything he had lived with up until that point.
We are given names other than the one given by our parents at birth. Most of the time, we internalize these names and it ends up being a self-fulling prophecy. Shameless. Unforgiven. Adulterer. Liar. Thief.
Throughout the Bible, we see God changing names. God changed Jacob's name to "Israel," which means "triumphant with God." Holy smokes, what a name change! From DECEIVER to TRIUMPHANT.
God changes our names too. The names we internalize that we get from others...He changes them. It's not about getting a new name..it's about WHO God is.
Check out the sermon here.