Sermon Notes for Sunday, September 3
What’s in a name?
by Tanner Fox
Some people are “name” people. Even if they have only been introduced once and spent 2 minutes talking, they will never forget a name. Other people have the hardest time remembering names. I am in the latter group. Moving to Orlando made this reality all the more evident. My wife has lived in Orlando all her life and knows just about everyone in town. Many of those people know of me because of her, and therefore I am constantly asking Ashley to remind me of their names. When she is not with me I resort to the cowardly, “Hey bud,” because there are few feelings worse than calling someone the wrong name, or being called by the wrong name.
What happens to us when our name is forgotten? Why does it hurt? I think it might be because it represents the most elementary level of being known. Dr. Swanson referenced what he said may be the two most fundamental desires of the human heart, to be know and to be loved. But what does that mean exactly?
I think it is easy for us to understand the idea of being loved. I believe myself to be quite lovable. People love me for what I can offer them and what I might ad to their lives. But this love is conditional and superficial.
There is a deeper more true kind of love that I long for - that I believe we all long for. A sacrificial sort of love that bears with me each day, electing to think well of and care for me, no matter the cost. This idea of love leads us towards what it means to be known.
To be known, truly known, is a vulnerable place to be. Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and fall short of the grace of God, but just because we know our sin is in there, doesn’t mean we want anyone else to know about it. What I want others to know of me is only the good stuff. That is why our resumes don’t include our greatest achievements alongside our largest shortcomings. We have been trained to reveal the good and bury the bad in order to be accepted and loved. However, to be truly known is to be known entirely, fortunes and flaws alike. And without this kind of knowing, we will live in fear of being found out.
In John 4, Jesus meets a woman who is well known by her peers, but not loved. She has had many husbands and now sleeps with a man whom she is not married. She comes to the well at midday because that is when she can go alone. She is full of shame and tries to deflect every question that Jesus asks and yet his words pique her interest. Jesus tells her that she can have “living water” that will quench her thirst forever. The water he speaks of is the salvation that he brings through his life and coming death, resurrection, and ascension. You may say, “Yes of course Jesus brings eternal life, we all know that.” But don’t miss to whom it is offered. Salvation is offered to a woman known only by her flaws. Jesus loves her despite her flaws.
The woman cannot contain her excitement over the news she has just heard. Maybe for the first time in her life, all of her secrets are known, and still she has felt loved. So much so that she runs back to town to exclaim... “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” - John 4:29
There is no feeling quite like being known and loved all in the same moment. It wipes away fear, it fills our hearts with joy, it invokes a sense of worthiness, it restores our soul. When we meet Jesus we recognize that to be known by him is to be loved by him.
Who in your life fully knows and loves you? Are you truly known by anyone, or do you resort to hiding for fear of not being loved? Who do you extend love and grace towards even when they are at their worst? This is the love of the Jesus, that we care for others without expectation or condition.
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org