Namaemake - Part 3

In the Japanese culture, names have meaning and lay out a child’s intended destiny, set by the parents.  To fail to live up to one’s name is namaemake.  It is shameful.

We are Christians.  That name carries meaning.  It is a name that we should strive to live up to and be ashamed when we fail.

What is the meaning?  It means that we believe in Jesus.  But, you might notice that our name is Christian (Acts 11:26) rather than Jesus-ians.  There is more implied with the first than with the latter.  A person could believe that Jesus existed without being a Christian.  In fact, every first century Jew we know about believed in Jesus and most of them were not Christians.  They believed Jesus existed, but also believed He was a nuisance or a threat (John 11:47-48).  They believed in Jesus but didn’t believe He was the Christ.

The word “Christ” means anointed one.  To call Jesus the Christ is to say that He was sent from God and that He is the fulfillment of the promise, the long-awaited Messiah (Dan. 9:25-26).  The King.  The Expected One (Lk. 7:19-20) who would conquer God’s enemies and give rise to the kingdom of God.  Surely bearing such an important name comes with an expectation that we will live accordingly.

Peter freely confessed that Jesus was the Christ (Mt. 16:16), but he quickly failed to live up to that faith.  How can one reconcile declaring Jesus to be from God (even going so far as calling Him the Son of God) but then pull Jesus aside and rebuke Him, directly disagreeing with what Jesus was saying (Mt. 16:21-23)?  That is not behavior fitting of one who calls Jesus the Christ.  For this offense, Jesus rebuked Peter and even called him Satan because he was not setting his mind on “God’s interests, but on man’s.”  That is namaemake.  No doubt, Peter would look back and cringe at his behavior in that moment.

On another night, Peter’s behavior would again betray his faith.  Three times people came up to Peter accusing him of being a disciple of Jesus.  Three times, Peter vehemently denied having anything to do with Jesus (Mt. 26:74).  That is namaemake.  We don’t have to wonder how Peter felt this time.  Once Peter realized what he had done, he wept bitterly (Mt. 26:75).

Judas certainly did not live up to faith in Jesus as the Christ when he decided to betray Jesus for a handful of silver (Mt. 26:14-16,48-49).  That is an extreme case of namaemake.

When Jesus was resurrected, He reproached His disciples for “their unbelief and hardness of heart” (Mk. 16:14).  Jesus had told them He would die and be resurrected.  They hadn’t believed, not even once news started to trickle in of disciples witnessing Jesus alive, back from the dead.  They had claimed to believe, but in moments of difficulty, they were filled with unbelief.  That is namaemake, too.

Those moments are not ones we want to emulate.  We are Christians.  Act like you believe.  Confess Jesus publicly (Mt. 10:32-33).  Do not worry about the things of this world, because He has promised our needs will be taken care of (Mt. 6:25-33).  Do not worry about death because Jesus is coming back (I Thes. 4:13-18).  

Live like you believe Jesus is the Christ.  After all, we don’t want to be namaemake.