Every so often, I think about the names of our God. And every so often I hear people talk about those names. Sometimes it’s a quiet kind of awe suffusing the conversation, and other times it’s the loud and boisterous celebration of incredible victory. This is around names like the Tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letters that together form the original name of the Lord), Jehova Nissi (The Lord is my Banner), Jehova Jyra (The Lord who heals), El Shaddai (God who is Mighty), even Jesus Christ (which when tracked back can be translated to be “The Salvation of the Lord’s Anointed one”).
And yet, there is a name of the Lord that I tend not to think about too much until days like today roll around and I end up thinking about it.
A lot of different directions I can go with this one but let me tell you what it means to me personally rather than go to the scholars or Webster’s English Dictionary.
Over a certain span of Japanese history that extended from the Sengoku period up until the end of the Bakumatsu (probably late 10th century to late 19th century) the warrior class in japan, what is glorified in the west as the Samurai, were very prominent. Now not all members of the warrior class were actually samurai and served the emperor or a lesser aristocrat, but let’s look at the Samurai specifically for a moment here. Because there is a great moment in the movie The Last Samurai that really exemplifies how the tradition of a warrior’s service to his lord functioned for nearly a millennia.
Tom Cruise approaches the emperor bearing the sword of Saigo Takamori (real person btw) who died in the previous scene. Cruise kneels before the emperor and one of the emperor’s advisors (I forget which one, but he was given a bad rap by the movie) says “but this man is your enemy!” and Cruise replies “If the Emperor believes me to be his enemy, he need only ask and I will gladly take my own life.” And I had no doubt I was going to watch Tom Cruise commit Seppuku (ritual suicide) on screen.
Now tell me how this is any different for the Christian serving The Lord?
- “I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31
- “for me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21