By what name are you known?
by Ken B. Dyck
Some called him “rich.” Others called him “short,” a “thief,” a “sinner” and “tax collector.” He was an outcast, one who sold out his own people for dishonest gain. His mom called him Zacchaeus.
Most of us remember the little rhyme we were taught as children to protect our hearts when being teased: ‘Sticks and stone may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. That’s great except it’s not true. A more accurate rhyme exposes reality: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will break my heart’.
It matters what people think of us. It matters what we think of ourselves because we cannot consistently act in a manner that is inconsistent with how we perceive ourselves. You’ve likely been trying that for years and it isn’t working.
Jesus called Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham.” He appealed to over 2,000 years of Jewish history to show the crowds that Zacchaeus was really no different (no better or worse) than any of them – he was a person, a living soul in need of love, hope, forgiveness, and a Saviour.
Now which of the names ascribed to Zacchaeus had the power to change the core motivations of his heart and trajectory of his life? (hint: it wasn’t short, thief, sinner, tax collector, or even Zacchaeus.)
More personally, by what name are you known? By what names do you call yourself? Do any of these sound true in your heart: failure, damaged goods, unwanted, insignificant, sex addict, liar, perfectionist, people pleaser, divorcee, abuse survivor, loser, unforgivable, not good enough, a mistake…?
The names you carry may even have a measure of truth to them or they may have been imposed on you by someone in your past trying to hurt you.
The good news is that when Jesus looks at you, none of these names really matter.
Jesus has another name for you but He wants you to seek Him enough to find it.
Had Zacchaeus not made the effort to push through the crowds and endure their scorn to catch a glimpse of Jesus, I doubt he’d ever have heard his new name. It’s unlikely Zacchaeus expected Jesus to come to his house; it’s unlikely Zacchaeus had any more hope for a fresh start than his critics. But again, none of that really matters. What matters is that Jesus loved Zacchaeus and could see his potential. And in the presence of unconditional love, Zacchaeus repented, made amends with those he cheated and was “saved” without even praying the prayer. “Today, salvation has come to this house for this man too is a Son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:9 NIV)
Jesus has a new name for you and it starts with “son” or “daughter.” It’s time to push through the crowds, deal with your pain or your past, and find it! And if you need help, consider taking Freedom Session this fall at a church near you.
Ken B Dyck is a pastor (Village Church), author (Freedom Session & Authentic Living) and Executive Director of Freedom Session International. www.freedomsession.com