What’s in a Name

“Did you know there are two “Sean”s at church?” ~ Ivy sharing surprise with Meg

Sean, the oldest Ramos child, called me the other day. Our conversation began like this…

Me: “Hello”
S: “This is Sean”
Me: “Uh…yes… this is Sean…”

During the awkward pause I checked the caller id and realized that Sean was calling Sean…

… On Sean’s name, I always butcher the pronunciation of his last name. I say Ra-mos like ra-in, rather than the correct Ra-mos like ra-w. And the youngest Ramos, Cole, let me know the wound from my butchering was still raw…

In Augusta the church was on the edge of the city and many members came from the suburb of Martinez. But in Augusta the city was pronounced Martin-ez like the name or bird. Which caused me all kinds of problems, at first with Augustans as I mispronounced their city. Then, once I converted, I would use the same pronunciation for people’s last name – Like Pedro Martin-ez ~ which placed me so far beyond the pail of normalcy that people could only stare…

In recent years the church has become an isolated community. At one time the church was not only connected, but at the center of society. If you were not coming on Sunday you felt the guilt of sleeping in. But today we are witnessing the transition where the church is now the anomaly!

And in this disconnect, we have begun to lose the ability to communicate with society. It is not that we are mispronouncing words, but that we are using words which no longer make sense to non-church goers. Take the word “sin”. Everyone has a concept of doing wrong and everyone would admit that they have done something wrong. But the implications of sin go far beyond one act, to the reality that we are no longer connected to God. Through sin all of society, all of the world, is breaking down.

But the average person no longer understands this – for that matter many church members no longer understand.

And there are a hundred concepts just like this, take “holy” or “virgin birth” or “Lord’s Supper” or “justification” or …

Of course the mission of the church is not protectionist isolation – instead we are called to go: the Great Commission (another foreign concept!). So we need to rethink how we communicate with our neighbor. Not that we dumb down our relationship with Christ, but we remember that relationship is a journey! Therefor we must connect to where people are now. No longer rejecting them because they are unsure about our theological terms.

In the end following Christ is not about words. There will be no test of our definitions. There will only be relationship. In Him we will all move toward sanctification… I mean holiness… I mean salvation… I mean… well…

All that matters is that we are in Him.

… but what does it mean to be in Him??? This is what we must learn to explain! And our explanation will not be in words, but in deeds. A teaching lived out in life, rather than books. Which is the example of our God – who came and lived among us.

4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name

  1. I could not agree more Sean. The ability to communicate the message of the salvation in christ to those with no prior church background is a true gift. Our society has become disconnected with the church and we must search out new ways to convey the message.

    1. Hey Don: Thanks for letting me use your family – sorry I forgot the true youngest Ramos, Owen!! And I was glad to see you this morning!

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