There is so much you can learn from a name. Though the name Neighbors isn’t common, I try to live in such a way that I honor my family and my parents by behaving in ways that bring honor and not disgrace to the name I carry. Even more so is the name Christian.
Just like family names, you can learn a lot about churches by looking at their name. The church I serve is called Ebenezer. It means stone of help. It’s roots are in scripture and it refers to the stones Samuel put up to remember how the Lord helped them. We talk often at Ebenezer of what the Lord has done to help us over these past two centuries here in Florence.
Often churches with names like…Unity are churches that come from church splits. Churches called First _____ (Baptist) are either churches that came first in a town for a particular denomination or were named first. There is always more than meets the eye when you see the name of a church.
In today’s scripture reading the first story we read is about the cruel stoning of Stephen. He is considered the first martyr for the Christian faith. I’ve read and heard this story many times. It’s a powerful story of God’s work in a believer’s life. But until today, I never paid attention to the name of the church that stoned Stephen. Acts 6:9 says that, “Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)…” So, in other words, today we might call this Freedom Church. How ironic. They call themselves freedom, yet they are bound in sin. Stephen eloquently tells them in chapter 7 about the history of their faith and why Jesus is The only Way, yet in the end, they kill Stephen and turn away from the Lord.
It’s easy to point fingers and say, “how dare this Freedom Church stone Stephen.” We can easily see in hindsight how dumb these people were. Yet, how often do well meaning Christians do sinful things in the name of the Lord? May we always take seriously the name of Jesus. May we carry His name as Christians far above our church names and may we honor Christ in all that we say and do as individuals and as churches.