The joke plays out in my house on a fairly regular basis. This morning I was trying to get my little guys’ attention, raising my voice over the typical morning sounds of boys giggling, shouting, tumbling over one another like bear cubs.
“Nnnnn … Mmmmm … Michael!” is about how it came out when my still-sleepy brain tried to get the attention of both of them—actually not a bad mash-up of Micah and Nicholas! Thankfully, my guys are used to their silly mama and her name jumbles. As a famous comedian used to say about this oft-observed syndrome, “What’s your name again? Come here, whatever your name is—you live here, and I’ll find out!”
Of course, forgetting names isn’t the only issue that happens in our families; sometimes name-calling becomes the problem—and it doesn’t seem to stop when we graduate from the playground. Social media becomes an easy place to toss labels around. Gossip encourages us to laugh at the acquaintance who can never get it together, or our spouse who hasn’t quite attained perfection (ahem).
Sometimes I wonder: what would it be like if we were to address one another—just for a day or so—the way Paul speaks to his readers in the Epistles?
“ … holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling …” Hebrews 3:1
“ … those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling …” 1 Corinthians 1:2
“ … all who are beloved of God in Rome …” Romans 1:7
My little guys might not appreciate the deep meaning behind these words, and I’d probably just get some confused looks if I tried getting their attention that way! But considering these unusual phrases, I’m struck by their truth. These words, they tell us who we really are—redeemed young and old, male and female, mother and father, husband and wife, brother and sister:
- Holy brethren.
- Partakers of a heavenly calling.
- Sanctified in Christ Jesus.
- Saints by calling.
- Beloved of God (wherever we are).
C.S. Lewis said this in The Weight of Glory:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities [indeed one or the other is an eventuality], it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another… all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
It is a serious thing, indeed. Am I speaking to the precious immortals living within my four walls, the ones who go to my church, the ones in the carpool and checkout lanes, as if they are just that—precious immortals?
Just who are you talking to?