A New Name

This past week two lawmakers, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), sent a letter to the NFL insisting the Washington Redskins change their name. Debates over “offensive” nicknames for sports teams have increased in recent years. Other professional teams that experienced protests include baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.

High school and college teams haven’t been exempt from this controversy. Until June 2012, the University of North Dakota teams were called “Fighting Sioux”, but then dropped that name due to pressure from the NCAA. No new nickname has been chosen yet. Still most UND students and alumni call their teams “Fighting Sioux.” 

In this age of political correctness, the controversy over team names has gotten a bit ridiculous. Surveys have determined most Native Americans don’t mind the use of Indian names for sports teams. One long-time Redskins fan of American Indian descent emailed the team saying, “I am very proud of the name and our fight song. I do not find them offensive or derogatory.” Florida State’s use of its Seminole name is officially sanctioned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

It seems the ones who protest the loudest regarding this matter are politicians. Washington Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie pointed out in a statement, "With all the important issues Congress has to deal with such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don't they have more important issues to worry about than a football team's name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘Red People’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.” 

There are accounts in the Bible of names changing for nations and especially individuals. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar by King Nebuchadnezzar. In the New Testament, Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas (or more commonly known as Peter). After his conversion on the Damascus Road, Saul became the Apostle Paul.

Over the years I’ve known a few Christians who changed their name to something more biblical. One woman I met over the Internet now goes by the name Hepzibah. A man I evangelized with a few times changed his name to Elihu. Another man who used to be my best friend had renamed himself after one of Jesus’ early disciples. Sadly, my friend ended up betraying me by pursuing an adulterous relationship with my then-wife. Changing one’s name doesn’t automatically produce a change of character.

A name change will also not affect a person’s eternal destiny. Before your life ends, you want to make sure your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Then when you get to heaven, you will get a new name that’s between you and the Lord Himself. I’m curious to find out what mine will be.
“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” - Revelation 2:17

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