Why the Church Exists
At this point, you might be thinking, “Well, what do we gain from existing for the sake of someone’s name? A person’s name is simply their identifier. So, what is the significance of existing for the sake of their name?” And yet, if we look at the Bible, what we actually see is that a person’s name is more than just their identifier – a way of separating them out from other people. But actually, a person’s name is a summary of who they are, and that God’s name is especially like that in terms of his name being his way of revealing himself to us, who he is. So, when we read “for his namesake,” then we’re saying that we want him to be praised and glorified for who he is. It has to do with his reputation.
We do have this meaning for the word “name” in our culture because we can talk about someone’s name being dragged through the dirt. It’s nothing to do with the actual sound of their name they give; a name, no. It’s much more to do with their reputation. The name has been profound, but there’s an upshot to that, which is that someone’s name can be glorified. And so, when we say “for the sake of his name” or “for his name’s sake,” then really what we’re saying is that we exist for the glory of God. We don’t exist for our own name’s sake, like the people from the Tower of Babel who wanted to make a name for themselves, who wanted their reputation to be known, who wanted themselves to be glorified. No, we exist for his name’s sake. We want him to be glorified.
Sometimes the phrase is put this way, “for his great name’s sake,” and that really emphasises the glorifying aspect.
Names to Run Away From & To
There are some names you need to run away from. Cruella De Vil for example. You can’t really blame Roger for assuming that Cruella De Vil was indeed a cruel devilish woman.
Monstro the whale is similar—clearly a monster, avoid him.
And Maleficent is the other one. Maleficent is literally an adjective meaning “a thing that causes harm”. You run away from these names.
But the Lord Jesus Christ is a name you run to. Lord—Jehovah—the special “I Am” covenant-name of the Living God. Jesus, the name that means he saves. And Christ the name that means Anointed One. What better name is there.
What’s in a Name?
But it’s not just the name’s meaning that makes him worth running to, it’s all that his name represents which is what we mean when we say ‘for his name’s sake’.
So, go through the Bible and see how important this concept is…
It’s there in Psalm 23 that his own glory is the reason why he leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. It’s all there so we can worship him, so his reputation can be made greater. And of course, it comes up in the Psalms again and again that that name is something we plead in order to ask for him to be glorified all the more.
But it comes as a surprise because some people hate the name of Jesus. Jesus knows that sometimes you’ll be hated for his name’s sake. He knows that sometimes, for his name’s sake, people will need to leave houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands. For his name’s sake, if you’re called out of the nations, then you may be hated by all nations.
‘For his name’s sake.’ Paul knew that he had to suffer for the sake of Christ’s name, as he was told in Acts Chapter 9. And yet, as John reminds his readers in his first letter, our sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. It somehow brings God more glory to forgive our sins, which is a great mystery.
And so, even at the very end of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, we’re told to endure patiently and to bear up by the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us a reason. Why should we do it, Lord Jesus? Well, he says, “For my name’s sake. Do it for my reputation. Do it for my glory.”
May it be!