So, What's His Name? - A Christmas Question
The hot sun beamed down on the blacktop courts. Shadows of the baskets would migrate from right to left as another day of hoops came to an end. The sun was the bright lights and the blacktop was our center stage. Basketball filled the summer days. We were kings.
Stick with me, I promise this is a Christmas story...
Blacktop And Roundball
We kids met every summer day on the courts playing so much we learned the tendencies of our opponents. Seth liked to shoot from the corner. Gabe always lingered around the top of the key. Me? I loved setting the back screen and then rolling to the front of the hoop. How we played earned us a spot on the team but it also earned us something else. A nickname.
Nicknames were the sacred symbols of the blacktop. They were your identity. They described your game and your purpose. Regarding nicknames there was only one rule: A nickname you give yourself does not count. It had to be earned and ascribed to you. The people you shared the courts with were the ones who gave you your name, your place, and your purpose.
I never thought basketball nicknames would serve as a massive life lesson.
Somewhere, whilst I was a teenager, I became enamored with making a name for myself. Like so many young people dreams of fame and fortune consumed my thoughts. “One day I will be,” was my way of saying, “One day people will recognize me as this.” Looking back, I wish I would have remembered that a name or title or some fanciful description of success that I gave to myself simply does not count. It is when you earn your nickname that someone else gives you that you find purpose and fulfillment and, dare I say it, true success.
When Jesus came to earth he didn’t have to work at gaining a reputation. It was given to him a long time before he even showed up. Have you ever heard the phrase, "his reputation preceded him"? With Jesus this was the case, but not only did his reputation precede him, it was ascribed to him. He had much to live up. Isaiah said this about him,
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
Jesus had his nickname before he ever stepped foot on the court. And boy, did he ever live up to it. His nicknames defined his game pretty well. His life, the constant fulfillment of the prophecy. He was and is who he was said to be.
That is the most comforting thought I have for you this Christmas.
The most challenging, however, may be this: Are you working for a nickname that doesn’t really count? I’ve learned that being given a name is easier and much more rewarding than trying to make the masses share a similar opinion about you.
Here is your Christmas challenge: Ask God what name he has for you and surrender to it. Live for that name and not the name you want to give yourself.