Jim Class – Next Period
I had many names growing up. The vast majority of them were derivations of my actual name.
In my family there are, and have been, a plethora of Jims. That is not precisely true. We have had a lot of people in my family who were called Jim, but there true name was actually James.
But to say they were all called Jim is not entirely accurate either. My paternal great grandfather, James Clayton, was the heir to the title of Jim as he was the patriarch. My dad was also James Clayton, but he was called Jimmy in deference to Jim (great grandpa).
Then I was born and was also James, but could not be called Jim or Jimmy, so I became, “Little Jimmie.” (The spelling, which not everyone holds to, was the choice of my maternal great-grandmother, who was Stella and will likely not be mentioned again in this blog.)
We are up to three named James, but I haven’t run the gamut yet. My maternal grandfather was James Elmont. His son, my uncle was James William (But I called him Uncle Jim and others called him Jimmy). Uncle Jim’s eldest son was James Eric, but we call him Eric.
That’s three per side of the family (I guess I count twice, but I am only counting myself once). And yet there’s one more, Uncle Bub (my paternal great uncle by marriage), who was James Arthur. The whole family called him Bub, but the entire community of Terre Haute, Indiana, called him Jimmy.
To add to the caveat, my oldest is Jenna Marie, who would have been James Mitchell, III had she been a boy. That brings the total to seven men in my family with the first name James.
Back to the different names I carried. I was typically Jimmie at home. I was only “Little Jimmie” (I do refer to my first grandchild as “Little Jimmie” as well, but her name is Rose Lyn. She is more likely to get mentioned again than Stella, because she’s my grandchild) at large family gatherings.
At some point in my sister’s toddler years I became Bubby because she couldn’t clearly pronounce ‘brother.’ So, my list of names so far sounds like this: James, “Little Jimmie,” and just Jimmie, Bubby, and over time, to most people, I became Jim. There was a time, however, when I worked as a busboy at, The Seafood Broiler restaurant in Glendale, California, that I had a co-worker named Juan. He was of Mexican heritage and he called me Jaime, which is Spanish for Jim.
There were times that my mom used all of my names in relatively short periods of time. If she were calling me inside for dinner, the first call would be, “Jimmie, time to eat.” The second would be, “James Mitchell, don’t make me call you again,” which I inevitably did!
The third and final call, the tornado siren to me, was, “James Mitchell Clayton the second, you get in here right NOW!” At this point I came, knowing that the next step would be to have been dragged in by my upper arm, with my mom holding my sister on one hip and my little brother snickering behind us.
There is a reason why I went on this anecdotal binge. The topic of this month’s Jim Class led me there. The times that my mom would use my full name in calling me in were done out of a sense of urgency.
I’m fairly confident she frequently uttered the phrase, as nearly every mother has – it’s in their handbook – (insert your full and proper name in the blank) “______________________, I said NOW!”
Now is the topic of Jim Class this month.
It’s one of those words in the Bible we don’t often pay enough attention to. But it can’t be put off, it can’t be ignored, and yet, those are the things that a large percentage of people (including the body of Christ) do with it.
The very nature of the word NOW is one of action and existence. When we hear the word NOW, we immediately know what it means, it is obvious. Yet, at the same time, we hesitate because it’s too simple, it’s too self-explanatory to be that clear.
When we hear the word NOW many of us are intimidated, even fearful because of the underlying complexity that is revealed by its simplistic nature.
It is implied in other words, which makes it easy not to act upon. NOW is a simple word. It’s awe inspiring and amazing. It is so important and so valuable that God saw fit to use it 1600 times in the Bible, depending on what translation you are looking at.
One Thousand six hundred times! That means we could read verses with the word NOW in them, every day for almost five years and never repeat ourselves.
When you tell someone to go, when do you intend for them to go? Now!
When you give your kids a job to do, when to you expect them to do it? Now!
When you go to the drive through at McDonalds, place your order and pull up to the window, when do you expect them to have your order ready? Now!
When you pull up to a red light when do you expect it to be green? Now!
When you leave on a long trip, and you are excited to arrive at your destination, when do you want to be there? Now!
II Corinthians 6: We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (NKJV)
Paul tells the church at Corinth that, “NOW is the day of salvation.” (Emphasis mine.) If that was so in Paul’s day, it is so today. The interesting thing about the word now is, it is always in the present tense. Now never passes, never has to be waited upon, and never leaves us questioning when it is.
It isn’t like other words that can gain urgency over time.
“If it was critical then, how much more critical is it today?”
“I have to get there right away, or I’ll be late!”
Now is always now, it is not more now today than it was ten years ago, and you can’t be late for now because it always is!
I think our inclination toward complacency has gotten us into a rut. We convince ourselves, or let others convince us that we need a break, we DESERVE a break. We even get to the point that we ignore important things because we have convinced ourselves a break is more important than anything else,
That doesn’t mean never take rest. Even God rested. But it does mean that our responsibility to preach the Gospel never takes a break. Whether we’re at work, at school, the grocery store, or on vacation. We can’t ignore any opportunity to share the Gospel.
The point is this. There’s a name – not yours – not mine. But a name that is more important than any name we will ever come across. The full name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. But that isn’t His only name.
He is called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, the Great Physician, Savior, Lord, Son of God, and Son Of Man. And He is all of those.
Other’s have called Him a devil or out of His mind. Some have said He is simply a good man, or even a mythical teacher. Still others have called Him a fraud and a hoax.
Names are important, and have been throughout time. But there is no name that is more important nor carries as much urgency as the Name of Jesus! The name above all names, the name at which every knee shall bow and the name that every tongue will confess as Lord.
The connection between the name and the urgency is this. Our job as Christians is to go into all the world and preach the Good News. And the lynch-pin in the Good News is hope in THE NAME!
II Corinthians 5:16 Therefore, from NOW on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 NOW all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
As we saw earlier, Paul told the church at Corinth that NOW is the day of salvation. He went further to point out that it was their job to propagate that news which we see in chapter five of II Corinthians.
So, from NOW on – from that moment we accept Jesus – we are judged by our spirits, our true selves. NOW all things are of God – who brought us back together with Him through Jesus Christ and expects us to carry that word on to others.
In other words – if God is talking to me, and He is – “James Mitchell Clayton the second, you get out there and tell people about Jesus – Right Now!” (Please note, if you’re a Christian, you can – and should – substitute your name where mine is!)