by Zach Simons
Hi, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Zach Simons.
For those of you whom I’ve not yet met, this is the first step in our relationship - the imparting of a name. With that may come a few other details. Maybe a handshake, or a vocation. For instance, it may also be helpful for you to know that I am the new Pastor of Worship and Community at Four Oaks Midtown campus, and that my wife Aly and I recently moved from Orlando to serve at Four Oaks and be a part of what God is doing here in Tallahassee. We love hiking, biking, camping, food, coffee, Green Bay Packers football and our dog Harper. Aly was an elementary school teacher for 6 years, plays piano, loves to run distance races and directed children’s ministry for a number of years in our former church.
These are important details, but everyone starts with just a name. It is the first and most prominent way to reveal my identity to another person. In scripture, we see that names were even more culturally significant than in our culture today. A person's name was often tied to belonging, character, or mission. The circumstances of their birth, God's words regarding their life and work, the man or woman they would become, and what they would do all shaped the name given to a child. In many ways, names were given as a way of associating the person being named with some characteristic that would help make up their identity.
What does it mean then that the people of God are given new names in Scripture?
Isaiah 62 speaks of the salvation of the people of God, and the transformation of their identity that takes place as a result. Consider the names given to God’s people in this passage:
“…and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
… And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.”
In Jesus, this transformation finds it’s fulfillment. The gospel of John says that to all who receive Christ and believe in his name, “he gave the right to become children of God.” It means that all these wonderful names apply to us. We have new identities as a part of his family! This means we are:
- sons & daughters
- delighted in
- made holy
As the church, our new names reflect not only these truths about us, but also truths about our Father, because these things are only true in relation to him.
I introduce myself as Zach Simons. Yet the identity that lies behind that name is new and glorious in Christ. I’ll never simply be the sum of my life’s accomplishments. Because of Jesus's accomplishments, I am much more.
I am overjoyed to be a part of Four Oaks Community Church and I hope over the next few months to get to know each of you by name. For you are much more as well.
Beloved, pursued, redeemed, delighted in, son of the living God