One Christmas we had the not-so-great idea of giving our youngest son a scooter. It was a bad idea not because of the gift, but because of the manner in which we gave it.
With four young boys and a very limited budget our Christmas gifts were more of the nature of coats, sweaters, small toys, and Monopoly® games. A scooter was far out of our budget.
So we enlisted our parents – and maybe even our sisters – to help cover the cost. So when Stephen came down, we had the scooter set up before the Christmas tree and we told him, “This is from Grandma and Grandpa Dolan, and Grammy Bahn, and Aunt…, and us.” The result: instead of getting four gifts he got only one. There is a different message here about that gift. We gave the gift “in the name” of his grandparents and aunts. We gave it, but it was much more from them than from us.
This is the same as what happens when the pastor announces the forgiveness of sins, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” He is giving a gift that comes from God. He is giving the gift. It comes through him. But he did not purchase it. It was given to him to give to others. He does so in the name of God.
When we speak in God’s name, it is vital that we realize that we speak in God’s name. It’s important to speak the name: Father. Son. Holy Spirit.
We believe God is one. Scripture testifies to his clearly: “Hear O Israel, the LORD, our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). But God has revealed himself as three persons in the one essence of the LORD. A mystery. But not so much of a mystery that we cannot name him. So we do.
To that end we dare not say anything God would not wish to say. We must not urge anyone toward anything God would not desire. We must not put ideas into people’s minds that God would wish not to be thought. If we do, we need not living our our identity as God’s children. We are not aligning ourselves with God’s purposes, will, plans, and purposes.
When someone is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, God is at work. He is putting his name on us – like Andy put his name on the bottom of Buzz’ shoe in the Toy Story movie. We belong to God. We are his. Whatever we do we are to do it in the name of Jesus Christ. That’s life in his name, our calling and God’s blessing.