Namaemake - Part 4

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 hold to Christ’s doctrine.  Last week, we observed that Christians believe in Jesus.  Of necessity, if we believe Him to be the Son of God, then we must also believe in what He taught.

In our society, the name Christian is bandied about haphazardly, even blasphemously.  It has gotten to the point that calling someone a Christian reveals practically nothing about them.  What do they believe?  Who knows!  There are so many different and contradicting doctrines out there from those who call themselves Christians.  But the name should determine the doctrine.  To be a Christian is to hold to the doctrines taught by the Christ.  Everything else should be dismissed and rejected.

Some believe that we can live any way we want and embrace any desire and still go to heaven.  Is that a doctrine from Jesus?  He said that only those who do “the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Mt. 7:21).  He warned about the inner passions that we have because they can defile us (Mt. 15:19-20).  Sure, people can regularly go to church and proudly pronounce themselves to be Christians.  But when they blatantly disagree with His teaching, that is namaemake.

The same thing happens with those who—out of a distaste for the doctrine—declare that hell is not a real place.  But Jesus taught about hell rather frequently (Mt. 5:22; 13:41-42,49-50; 18:8-9; 25:30,46; etc.).  How can someone take on the name Christian but reject the teachings of Jesus Christ?  That is a shameful use of the name.

There is still another meaning of Christian to consider.

It means that we will imitate Christ.  This is the purist sense of the word.  Christians are Christ-like.  Therefore, to take on the name Christian is to take on the great burden of having the loftiest of goals.  To love like Jesus (John 13:34).  To serve like Jesus (John 13:14).  To think like Jesus (Phil. 2:5).  To endure like Jesus (Heb. 12:2).  Even to suffer like Jesus (I Pet. 4:12-13).  If Christians do not come to reflect Christ in their lives, then that is the ultimate namaemake.

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26).  Since that time, we who have continued in that name have had a destiny given to us—our path and purpose have been declared in the name that we bear.  In this series we have identified four areas of focus that come with being a Christian.  First, Christ must be our destination.  Second, our faith must be in Jesus as the Christ.  Third, our doctrines must come from Him.  Finally, we must strive to be imitators of Christ.

Such things do not just happen.  They are the result of choice and diligence.  Let us do our very best.  After all, we have a name to live up to.