Last week, a 26 year-old man walked into the Tate Modern in London and brazenly daubed his moniker onto one of Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals. Some voiced disgust at the painting being defaced. A minority cheered his personal audacity. Others were simply puzzled by what it represented – a salute to the absurdist cause of ‘Yellowism’, a non-movement, which doesn’t really stand for anything at all. An ink-black name seeping into the canvas, possibly permanently, signifying nothing.
Then, at the weekend, Occupy London celebrated their first anniversary of bedding down outside St Paul’s, protesting (rightly) at the injustices in the global banking system. Occupy has been criticised though, for being a protest brand: a great name with brilliant PR, but lacking clear aims and actions.
It’s easy to self-identify, create a profile, decide on a username, choose a handle, design a tag, put a name for ourselves out there. But does the identity that we project truly reflect what we stand for?
The theologian Walter Brueggemann writes that the names of God stem from verbal sentences – from the string of unfolding actions that God undertakes out of love for his people. God creates; God delivers; God redeems. As this story of God’s action in history is related from one generation to the next, the names of God begin to crystallise. God is named: Creator, Deliverer, Redeemer.
If the same were true for you – you were named after your actions – what would you be called? For me, if I reflect on how I spend my time, more likely I’d be named ‘consumer’ than ‘creator’, ‘worker’ than ‘worshipper’. I’d probably be ashamed of some of the names that would reflect my action or inaction in the world.
Starting life afresh with Jesus, we are given a new name, not based on our actions, but on his. We are Created, Delivered, Redeemed. We don’t need to daub this name on canvas or hold it aloft on a banner. It’s written on our foreheads. It’s carved into the palms of our maker.
Let that be our signature. Let that be our brand.
Image by Crispin Semmens, Wikimedia Commons