Friday, April 17,2020
Do you have a nickname? I have had several. They ranged from fun to hurtful. I have been called Skinny (that was a long time ago), Gork, Trumpet (based on the disproportionate size of my nose when I was skinny), Honey, PJ, Old Man, and most recently, Boomer. I have forgiven those who gave me the hurtful ones.
Nicknames are generally given because they describe some characteristic or quality of a person’s life.
When the Apostle John and his brother James began to follow Jesus, they were given a nickname by Christ. Boanerges, or in English, the Sons of Thunder. This name did not describe their father, but it described the two of them.
The word Boanerges is translated as commotion. These two young disciples were identified by Jesus as brothers who caused a commotion.
Two things strike me right away. First, John was the Apostle that Jesus loved and with whom He had an intimate, heart-level relationship. That gives hope to all of us who stir up commotion. Second, there must be a way to channel commotion into a positive outcome.
Commotion doesn’t necessarily have to always be a negative. Sometimes it’s good to stir the pot. James and John were apparently at the front of the line when it came time to stir. We generally designate Peter as that guy, but James and John were the ones Jesus identified with the qualities of thunder.
There is evidence in the Gospel of Luke that these two brothers were the instigators of getting things done.
Luke 9:51-56 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
The Sons of Thunder were ready to call down fire from heaven to punish those who rejected Jesus. Jesus rebukes them, but behind their impulsiveness is great faith. They believed in what Jesus was doing. They believed in His power. They were ready to take action based on their beliefs. They just needed direction in doing it correctly.
I wonder how many Sons of Thunder we have raised as Sons of Compliance? I wonder if at times our own God-given strengths of initiative and risk-taking are suppressed by social norms? I wonder if the Thunder has been replaced with snowflakes?
Jesus acknowledged the strengths of James and John, and then, without breaking their spirits, directed their strengths to serve a higher purpose.
Don’t minimize the strengths God has given you because you are trying to fit into culture. Rather, use your strengths for the cause of Christ. Honor Jesus with them. Become identified by the name Jesus has given you.