What's in a Name?

How do you choose a name for a baby?

Several years ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution compiled lists of unusual names of children born in Georgia. Many were given the names of cars. Some aren’t surprising – like Ciera (319 of those in Georgia) and Cooper (815) – since those names predated the cars. Others, like Corvette, conjure images of beauty and power. But Viper? A baby named Viper?


Some parents named their children for occupations: Guitarist (1), Sheriff (2), Lawyer (4), Spy (1) and Doctor (1). Some even went with religious aspirations: Minister (1), Pastor 2), Priest (7), Deacon (40) and an ambitious number of Bishops (72).


Others opted for colors: Amber (6,183) and Jade (1,211), but only three Fuchsias (whatever color that is). A few went with names of elements: one Chlorine and, surprisingly, eight Tins.


Some preferred brand names. Say hello to Exxon (1), Chiquita (10), Raid (1 – this one just kills me), Arrid (1 – Wouldn’t it stink to be named for a deodorant?), and Teflon (1 – others tried this name, but it didn’t stick).


Does a name matter? Some of our parents tagged us with names just because they liked them. Nothing deeper than that. But many people are given names of significance.


That’s certainly true of Jesus - a name chosen by God. “You are to give him the name Jesus,” Mary was told, “because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). “Jesus” means “God saves”.


For good reason, the name of Jesus became the greatest of all. “God exalted him to the highest place,” Paul wrote, “and gave him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).


In that name is salvation. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved," Peter proclaimed (Acts 4:12).


In that name, the apostles were told their prayers would be granted. “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name,” Jesus promised (John 16:23).


To that name, we must submit. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” (Philippians 2:10).


What a privilege for followers to wear the name of Jesus! What an awesome responsibility to bring it honor rather than ridicule. In an age when interest in Jesus is waning, perhaps those of us wearing his name should be asking how well we represent him.