Sunday, February 4, 2018

A New Name

In this age of political correctness, debates over “offensive” nicknames for sports teams have increased. Four years ago, members of Congress from Michigan and Oklahoma sent a letter to the NFL insisting the Washington Redskins change their name. Other professional teams that experienced protests include baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. The latter will stop using its Chief Wahoo logo (pictured here) on their uniforms beginning with the 2019 season.

High school and college sports haven’t been exempt from this controversy. Until June 2012, the University of North Dakota teams were called Fighting Sioux. That name was dropped due to pressure from the NCAA. They are now called the Fighting Hawks. Many UND students and alumni still call their teams Fighting Sioux.

Surveys have determined most Native Americans don’t mind the use of Indian names for sports teams. One long-time Redskins fan of American Indian descent emailed the team saying, “I am very proud of the name and our fight song. I do not find them offensive or derogatory.” Florida State’s use of its Seminole name is officially sanctioned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The old UND Fighting Sioux logo was designed by an American Indian artist.

It seems the ones who protest the loudest regarding this matter are politicians. A Washington Redskins spokesman pointed out in a statement, “With all the important issues Congress has to deal with such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don't they have more important issues to worry about than a football team's name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘Red People’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.”

There are accounts in the Bible of names changing for nations and especially individuals. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar by King Nebuchadnezzar. In the New Testament, Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas (or more commonly known as Peter). After his conversion on the Damascus Road, Saul became Paul.

Over the years I’ve known a few Christians who changed their name to something more biblical. One man who I evangelized with a few times changed his name to Elihu. Another man who used to be my best friend renamed himself after one of the early church leaders. Sadly, my friend ended up betraying me by pursuing an adulterous relationship with my then-wife. Changing one’s name doesn’t automatically produce a change of character.  

A name change will also not affect a person’s eternal destiny. Before your life ends, you want to make sure your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Then when you get to heaven, you will get a new name that’s between you and the Lord Himself. I’m curious to find out what mine will be.

“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” - Revelation 2:17

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