Then they said to her, "None of your relatives has that name." So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote: HIS NAME IS JOHN, and they were amazed.
Luke 1:61-63 (ESV)
God is very interested in naming things and people correctly. This text tells about the birth of John the Baptist. When the angel of the Lord had first spoken to Zechariah about John's birth, he told him to name him John. Zechariah was so astounded by the angel's visit and the miracle he was promising that he asked how he would know that the promise would come true. Zechariah was unable to speak at all during Elizabeth's pregnancy because he doubted, but he had not forgotten the message from God that his son's name was to be John. As the women around Elizabeth began discussing the appropriate names for the new boy, Zechariah put his foot down and demanded that they name him what God had named him.
In the original garden, God gave Adam the ability and responsibility to name the animals. He could distinguish the distinctive nature of each and thereby knew how to manage them. From this we learn that one cannot manage what one cannot name. When we misname someone, we frustrate the relationship. When out of the need to be affirmed we call enemies friends, we are in trouble. When out of fear we call a differing opinion evil, we lock ourselves into narrow-minded bigotry. When we ignore Jesus as the present one who saves us, we speculate as to what he wants. When we neglect to agree with God that he is Lord, we are left to our own devices to survive in this confusing world.
There is an enemy who is constantly trying to misname all things in our spheres of responsibility. He suggests that our problem is first psychological when in fact it is spiritual. He suggests that mankind's issue is sociological when God says it is sinfulness. He suggests that our identities are determined by what has victimized us. God says they are determined by what Christ has accomplished for us. He suggests that families are man's creation and are outdated. God says that families are his idea and are essential to his purpose on earth. He suggests that love is an emotional response that ignores what is best for others in favor of what is most comfortable for others. He suggests that church is the structure that has grown up around the religious ritual and creeds rather than the community of faith that exists because of a common new birth. He suggests that the gospel is something we do to become better people rather than the proclamation that God has done something that makes us different people.
We could and should go on in examining the things the enemy has caused us to misname. It is very important that we name correctly all things in our sphere of responsibility, else we cannot manage them. If we have misnamed something, it is time to repent of it and name it correctly.
If God says his name is John, we had better not name him Henry.