Daily Devotional: Friday, February 23 - What's Your Name?

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” — 1 John 3:1 (ESV)

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He was knocked to the canvas, bloody and groping for light, and the fight looked to be over. The main protagonist, Adonis Creed, looked to have suffered the knockout blow in the 10th round of “Creed II.” Struggling to get back up against the physically bigger and stronger opponent, Adonis is stopped by the referee, who grabbed the boxer’s gloves and asked, “What’s your name?”

Until this point, Adonis had struggled with his name. He was the son of a world heavyweight champion, but the relationship was complicated. His father passed in the ring and was absent from his life. He was proud of his father and wanted to follow in his footsteps, but he didn’t want the weight of his father’s name to make him a fraud. With his one shot at the title, on the ropes, blood dripping down his face, Adonis screams to the referee checking his vitals that his name is Creed — owning his father’s name. From there, Adonis Creed goes on to rally and win the fight, strengthened by the fact he is carrying the greatness of his father with him.

How many times do we as Christians struggle to embrace our name and identity in our Heavenly Father? There are times we simply want to make it on our own, tie our own fight gloves, and win in the ring of life. Like Adonis Creed, we may not be running from the Father. Inside, we are proud to be a son or daughter of the King. We may wear our cross necklace or carry our Bibles, but they are carefully tucked within our shirts or downloaded in the privacy of our phones. We love our Father, but we are still trying in our own effort and strength.

The apostle John summarizes it best: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1, ESV). And so we are. This phrase has the power to change our lives if we embrace this idea. While difficult at first, here are some ways we can embrace our identity in Christ:

Forget Self. It is an odd dichotomy, but many experts believe the best way to find one’s true identity is to forget oneself. Psychology Today argues that self-forgetting is actually a skill, and one of the best ways to build resilience (for the fight of life) is by “learning to forget yourself.” The idea of humble forgetfulness is not only psychological. The apostle Paul tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). And to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus … [who] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5, 7). It seems the more we forget ourselves the more we are able embrace and adopt the name of the One who completely forgot Himself as He gave everything for others.

Embrace Love. Forgetting oneself is not enough. The void needs to be replaced. We all need love. Love is often depicted in rosy, beautiful ways. However, for followers of Jesus, love for others sometimes looks hard, difficult and gritty. In the words of Jesus, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). It seems that the greatest way to embrace the name and identity of our Heavenly Father is not to simply walk with a Jesus sign on the boardwalk, preach on the street corner, or quote the most scriptures. Not that any of these actions are negative; they are necessary, but alone are incomplete. Love is what gives power and identity to the actions we take. Actions taken in love show a different light to those we contact each and every day.

Stay Present. Far too often our identity or name is wrapped in thinking of either what we have done in past failures, or what we can become in the future with envisioned success. This often leaves us trapped in a vortex between past and present. Jesus’s identity was always in the present and He was able to truly see others. In Luke 17, Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, and lepers were watching from a distance and pleading for Jesus to have mercy on them. Instead of continuing on His journey, Jesus was present and healed the lepers. He declared to the one who came back to praise Him, “Your faith has made you well!” How many times have we missed opportunities to claim our identity by not being present?

The temptation to live like Adonis Creed and earn a name through our own effort is ever present. On the surface, it seems noble. Yet, it is exhausting and, in the end, unfulfilling. Our Heavenly Father already gave it all for us to have His name. Embracing it is the greatest way to live.

— Kyle C. Nyce

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