I am a big fan of podcasts. I love listening for information. I love learning. I love hearing people dialogue. I love hearing about what’s going on here, over there, in us. At the core of it, I really just love a good story. I think at some level we all do. I wanted to share a story that has stuck with me for years.
In the podcast, the interviewee was sharing about his uncle, Jean who loved nature. He and his wife (Jan) knew the names of the different trees and the names of all the different birds in their area. Uncle Jean shared his experience with driving around a local lake with someone that wasn’t from the area. As they drove around the lake they noticed about 10 different species of birds because they knew the names of the birds. Because they knew their names, they noticed them. Their out-of-town friend would say, “Oh man, I missed those birds. I missed all of them.” The couple responded, “Well, that’s because they are just birds to you. Once you know their names you start to notice them.
This story really stands out to me because it made me ask myself, do I notice the people around me? I mean sure, I see them. I see people in the grocery store. I see our servers at the restaurant. But do I really see them and notice. Although I see they are physically there, it’s easy to look past them because I’m focused on my own agenda and simply put, I don’t know their name, therefore I don’t know them.
A name is a big thing. People are identified by a name. People are known by a name. A name shows that attention has been given to them. Scripture shows that God values names. Isn’t it interesting how God had a say in naming people? With the first man and woman (Gen 2:18-23). With the naming of babies (Gen 16:11, Gen 17:19). Even in the New Testament He tells Mary what to name Jesus (Matt 1:21). What’s even more crazy to think about is He knows each of us by name (Isa 43:1-2, John 10:14). Of all the billions of people on earth and in all the hundreds of different languages, He knows us by name.
“Ok, that’s great Arthur. But, where are you going with this?”
“Ah, let me tell you.”
As New City Church, I don’t want us to look past people. I want us to be known as a people who love and care for others, a people who hasn’t lost focus of the mission God has placed before us, a people that is missional everywhere their feet take them. Amidst the chaos of soccer schedules, softball schedules, work schedules, to-do lists, the priority of sharing the gospel can easily fall by the wayside.We all have our daily and even weekly routines and places we visit regularly: restaurants, grocery stores, department stores, etc. I wan to encourage you to learn people’s names. The workers that you see once a week. The family that is there every time you are. Learn their names. The great thing about that is it’s really easy. All you have to do is ask.
If I know someone’s name, I’m less likely to overlook them. I actually notice them. I’m reminded they are people. I’m reminded they are people who feel and have hopes and dreams. I’m reminded that they are fellow image bearers who have forgotten they were created in His image. I’m reminded that they are in need of a Savior as much as I am. It starts with a name.