A young pregnant woman once exclaimed and said: “When I give birth to this child, I shall call him your name”. The young man whose name she was referring to immediately replied, “No, no, no, no, I don’t want anybody naming their children after my name; that child might grow up and become a thief and disgrace my name”.
A bit of a laugh or joke that might sound but, in all honesty, there is absolute truth in one of our Cook Islands’ common sayings: “E ta-akama tikai i te ingoa o to tatou metua e to tatou kopu tangata...really embarrasses and brings shame to our parents and family name”.
Yes, very true indeed. Many of us feel and suffer the sting and humiliation when one of our parents, sons or daughters or closest kin commits a crime and we live to bear the shame and embarrassment of it, all because of the name.
However, as great the biblical names like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon of the Old Testament might be, each and every one of them never really lived cleanly to the very end. Their names were subsequently flawed by some bad decisions and bad choices they had made.
Despite it all, however, through a change of heart to do better, having faith and trust in their God of Israel for forgiveness from their sins, they eventually were accounted worthy as heroes of faith in the hall of fame and faith.
This shows us that we must not believe or take heed of any of the devil’s tricks or lies that we cannot rise above our shortfalls or shortcomings and are therefore doomed forever.
On the contrary: in actual fact, every fault and every mistake that we make in life are but warnings and pointers for us to take the much safer paths and avoid the treacherous ones. It is like climbing up and down the many steep slopes, valleys and mountain ridges of our beautiful Rarotonga outback - thanks to our many tour climbers and guides who have marked the tracks so clearly, many hikers have been prevented from getting lost or involved in serious danger.
Abraham overstepped his mark when he failed to wait on God to fulfil his promise for a real son in his old age and instead took Hagar his wife Sarah’s maidservant and bore a son born outside the covenant.
Isaac made the mistake of favouring the one son Esau instead of treating both his sons equally, thus resulting in Esau losing both his birthright and full blessings from his father.
Jacob was a schemer who stole his brother Esau’s birthright and blessings over a cup of lamb’s broth and fled for his life. He stayed away in fear that his brother Esau might seek revenge until God called him back after 20 years of absence.
Yet, Jesus made special mention of them all in Mathew 22: 32: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead but of the living”.
Would God not say or do the same for us if we, like the great patriarchs of old, also repented of our sins, started anew and afresh, lived up to our names with sincerity, honesty and integrity and stayed in the will of God until we finally won the favour of God like they did? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
There is absolutely none born of a woman, born under the law and born under this heaven who has ever lived and died with integrity to his/her name but the Lord Jesus Christ.
No sin, nor sinner shall ever inherit the kingdom of God. We are, therefore, all at the mercy and grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The archangel Gabriel announced his birth and declared his name, “...and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”.
The Bible tells us how we can live up to our name in how Jesus lived up to his: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his footsteps. Who did no sin, neither was guile in his mouth. Who, when reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2: 21 – 24).
My beloved friends, let us re-position ourselves, renew our minds, re-align our wills, repent of our sins, get baptised in Jesus’ name like the first believers did on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2: 38); receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and make a total and complete turnaround to the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the Only Way, the Truth and the Life and no man cometh unto God but by Him.
His last cry on the Cross was a cry for the forgiveness of sins for the whole world of humanity: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34).
He lived up to His Name and died for it, yet still liveth forever: “JESUS CHRIST: the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). God save and bless the Cook Islands and the whole world beyond – “...for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4: 11).
Have a blessed Jesus weekend – Kia Orana e kia Manuia rava i roto ia Iesu!
Bishop Tutai Pere