In the past couple of years I have been called by many names. In Uganda, the children called me Lion and I was often refered to simply as Mzungu (white). This past summer in Togo the street vendors named me Body Guard and many of the Togolese natives simply refered to us as Yovos (foreigners). I’ve been called Artist, Writer, Christian, Blondie, Tall One and (one of my favorite) ‘the kid with the face’.
People call us by many names according to our words and actions as well as the names that we have been given (and various variations of said names). Sometimes the names we are given are not the names we would like and other times we use them to introduce ourselves. Some are offensive, while others speak of our character, our lives and our skills.
I was given a name by my parents, Sean Thomas Kerr, when I was born. An honor in and of itself, taken from those that came before me.
These names given to us by those who bring us into this world are the first of many that we receive throughout our journey of life. Throughout our years we receive many others from family, friends, those that barely know us and our enemies as well. We receive them out of kindness and friendship, mutual respect and anger.
They define us. They tell others, as well as ourselves, who we are. There is a power in them that cannot be taken away, cannot be revoked.
As we have all been given names by many people, our greatest name has been given to us by God. That is the name of Child. Son. Daughter.
When Christ Jesus died on the cross for each of our sins, God washed away our sins and accepted us as His children. He has called each of us into his family. He gave us a name that no one has the power to take away. He calls us each by name and he calls us each home.
The power of this name, being called a Child by God the Father, frees us from the sins of our past. While it doesn’t make us perfect, nor does it prevent sin from entering into our lives, it has the power to change how we live and how we view life.
In Togo, West Africa, we we, the crew of the M/V Africa Mercy were often called by the name Yovo, foreigner. During my first time in the Togolese Market, I was given the name Body Guard after shoving a local vendor as he tried to pull me away from one of the girls in our group who was being hastled. Every time I returned, the local boys would run down the street shouting “Body guard! Body guard!”
This name, though some were shocked, was not an insult or a threat, but a warning saying who I was, a protector. Someone who was willing to stand up to the hastling and prying. Someone who watched out for everyone.
Like my name in the Togolese market, God’s name for us speaks of our character, our lives, our actions. We have been named, called out. We are children of God. Yet so many times, we do not live up to this name.
I wouldn’t have been called Body Guard if I didn’t take a stand. It didn’t change who I was when I received the name, it just changed others perspective of me. Being given a name does not change who we are, but reinforces what we do, our actions and the perception of us from others.
God gave us a name. We must accept it and live up to it. Anything else is to turn our back towards God.
God Bless and PEACE