God Makes Us New
Names are important to God. Toby is one of the lesser known members of our family. We adopted him in 2015 when he was four. You probably wouldn’t know about him unless you’ve been to our house. Except for walks and the occasional car ride, he doesn’t get out much. He usually just hangs around the house sleeping, scratching, sniffing, and seeking attention. Yes, Toby is our pet dog. Although he doesn’t do tricks or chores, isn’t a very good watchdog, and couldn’t protect us from a flea, we love him and he’s become part of our family. Toby is a rescue dog. Renae and the girls got him from a woman in Victorville who was fostering dogs that had been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Apparently, his name used to be Burt. Then the woman changed it to Toby. Now I don’t know if she changed his name to give him a fresh start from his difficult past, but we’re glad she did because we like the name Toby more than Burt, for a dog anyway (sorry all you dogs named Burt out there).
Names are important and we see this in Scripture. In fact, they’re so important that from time-to-time God changed the names of people. There were small changes like Abram to Abraham or Sarai to Sarah. But there were also big changes like Jacob to Israel or Simon to Peter (which in Greek means rock). Whether big or small, each of these changes signified a change in the person’s identity and future. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Did Peter still struggle and mess up at times after that? Absolutely. But, in the end, he was a rock-solid disciple on which Christ eventually built His church just as his name indicated. The others also lived into their new names and identities.
God is a god of newness! The Lord knows we need change and transformation at times in our lives. In Isaiah 62:2, the prophet speaks of the future transformation of Jerusalem and says to God’s people “you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.” This new name was to match the transformed nature of their lives. For us, this change and transformation begins when we surrender our hearts to Christ and give him sway in our lives. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But, in Christ, God can change and renew us if we let Him.