In our society today the Name of Jesus has become offensive to many. It's tempting to stop using it and look for less offensive names to use, because we don't want to offend people. But, avoiding the Name of Jesus is dangerous for us as Christians. When we shy away from the very Name that has been our identity for close to 2,000 years, we choose to give up the power and authority we've been given.
Jesus told us to expect this to happen. In John 15:18-25, He tells us that the world will hate us because it hated Him first, and we are claiming His Name as Christians. John 15:21 says, "They will treat you this way because of My Name, for they do not know the One who sent Me." Jesus was preparing His followers for how they would be treated in the days to come.
The early church experienced persecution because of the Name of Jesus. They knew the reality of Jesus' words of warning. The book of Acts records many examples of the persecution they faced because of the Name of Jesus.
But, they also knew that was where all their power and authority came from. They didn't allow the persecution to stop them from calling on the Name of Jesus or acting in the Name of Jesus. Even when it cost them, they continued to claim the Name of Jesus.
Church history is filled with examples of people who continued to claim the Name of Jesus, even at great personal cost. One needs only to read some of the accounts of the martyrs of our faith to see that in action.
So, why are we choosing to stop using the Name of Jesus out of fear of offending people? Why are we shying away from it, when the cost is not yet (for us in the West) as high as it has been for people in our history?
I think for many of us, it's been pretty easy to claim the Name of Jesus in our society, until recently. Whether people agreed with our beliefs or not, they were generally respectful of ours and left us alone. But, that is changing. People now find the Name of Jesus to be offensive and we're not used to that, so we don't know how to respond.
Our response cannot be to stop using the Name of Jesus. Jesus warned us to expect this to come. Even if it becomes costly to claim the Name of Jesus, we must continue to do so, because that is where our power and authority comes from. We call on the Name of Jesus and we do all that we do in the Name of Jesus.
I'm not saying we should go out and look for how we can offend people with the Name of Jesus. That defeats the message of the gospel. But, our love for people and desire for them to understand the truth must be stronger than our fear of offending people with the Name of Jesus.
The Name of Jesus is offensive to some because of the power and authority it has - something they know deep inside because of the image of God in them. The Name of Jesus should never be offensive because of our words or actions.
The good news for us is that we don't have to live this way in our own strength. We have the Holy Spirit in us to help us live this way. The Holy Spirit in us empowers us to live our lives in the Name of Jesus.