/ faithful friends / Bryan Schneider

Names, Names, Names

"Good morning, brother." "That's right, sister." You hear some odd things at church, and calling each other brother and sister is one of those things. Don’t get me wrong—it’s theologically spot-on. We who are in Christ share the same Spirit that cries out "Abba, Father!"

Yet, I bet a lot of Christians end up using "brother" or "sister" just because they can’t remember someone's name. Our memory can be tricky sometimes. Like how my mom still loved me even when she accidentally called me by the dog’s name. But when we don’t remember names, it might be hinting at something deeper. Why do we forget?

Once, right after I’d forgotten a visitor's name at church, my pastor asked me, "Why do you think we don’t remember people's names?" He wasn’t accusing me of anything; he was just pondering out loud. Then he dropped a line that’s stayed with me for years: "I wonder if it’s because we don’t love them enough." Ouch, that stung.

And he was right. I didn’t love that man enough to remember his name. I didn’t care enough to make room for him in my memory. I managed polite chit-chat but skipped the real affection. If he didn't come back the next week, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe if he’d shown up a few more times, I might have remembered.

Even in our Bible reading, we skim over certain chapters. Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 16, Colossians 4, or 2 Timothy 4 go by quick. Why? They’re just not that engaging. And the genealogies? Tempted to skip those, aren’t we?

But those lists have lessons for us. First off, Paul knew everybody’s names because they mattered to him. He shows us that knowing someone’s name is a part of loving them.

Secondly, all those names and genealogies are in the Bible because God knows each of those names. Why doesn’t God call you "child number 93908634"? Because you’re not just a number to Him. He called Moses by name, Saul by name. And if you’re His, your name’s in His book of life.

Names mean people matter enough to God for Him to remember them. And if they matter to God, they should matter to us. Sure, it’s hard. But maybe that’s how people in the church can show true love to brothers and sisters—by loving each other enough to remember each other's names.

Bryan Schneider

Bryan Schneider

Husband to Olivia. Father of Nathan, Deborah, Daniel, & Ellie. Blessed to serve Sharon RP Church (sharonrpc.org). Loving Rural life.

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