What’s in a name?
My name is Jamin Rathbun, and I’m one of the leaders in the Single Adult community group at GFC. My first name — Jamin — is a Hebrew name, meaning “right hand.” Often, when teaching others how to spell my name, I’ll reference the more common name, Benjamin, which means “son of the right hand.”
I love my name. I have to spell it every time, but I like that it is unique. In fourth grade, they called me James for a few days because the teacher said it wrong and I didn’t correct her. With that brief exception, I’ve been known as Jamin my whole life, with no nicknames that have stuck better than my birth name. And there’s something about “right hand man” that just sounds dependable and loyal and strong to me. I like that. Appropriately, one of my sons is named Benjamin (son of Jamin). He’s adopted, and I got to choose his name when he was fourteen. He is a strong and steady helper, and “son of the right hand” suits him well. He’s a good man, and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all of my kids. Thinking of them, and how their names suit them, makes me smile.
I wasn’t there on day one for our church, and wasn’t part of the naming committee. But I have to imagine that Grace Fellowship was only one of several names that were on the list. Perhaps we were just two votes away from being know as Stinking Creek Free Will Bible Assembly of the Holy Brethren or something similar? Thank God for those two votes!!! Seriously though, as I think about the impact that my community group is having in our community, I find myself making connections with how Grace Fellowship is having an impact on our community at large, and how that identity is connected to our name.
Within the church, we tend to understand the word “grace” as a noun. It is God’s undeserved gift of salvation, given through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, which we receive by faith, confirmed by the deposit of His Spirit which guarantees our inheritance and empowers us to hold firm to the end. But when I think of the verb form of that word — the act of being gracious — I’m reminded about the man in Matthew 18 who was forgiven a great debt, but who refused to forgive a small debt that was owed to him. Being gracious, as best as I can characterize the word, is to respond to others with the humble and grateful generosity, kindness, patience, and compassion of one who has been forgiven of a great debt themselves.
Some of us at Grace Fellowship still carry the name of a person who has abandoned us. Many of us are still recovering in some way from the names that we’ve been called. Regrettably, some of us have done the abandoning and the name calling. Most of us have experienced great losses and have suffered (or are suffering) the consequences of terrible failures. All of us have regrets, and carry with us secret sins and shame that we’d prefer no one else to know.
And at the core, that is what brought my family back to GFC. In the season of my greatest shame, recovering from a divorce and looking for a church community who could help my family heal, we were drawn to Grace by the kindness of those who were already loving us in dozens of ways. And that’s exactly what you’d expect from a church named Grace Fellowship — a community of humble, gracious people, loving authentically and serving generously with no strings attached. God’s kindness leads us. Your kindness has helped and encouraged me. Now, I’m joining in with other individuals, community groups, and ministries at GFC to serve and love those in our church family and our community well.
We might judge you for wearing flip-flops in winter or for your poor taste in college football teams. But your past failures or current struggles won’t disqualify you. In fact, you’ll be in good company. For every member of this community has been shown a great grace and been forgiven a great debt. No matter where you are in your journey, this is a place where you can belong. And besides, it’s a good opportunity to get out of the house and have some fun with your friends. And that’s always a good thing! Hopefully we’ll see you soon.
The Single Adults Community Group meets from 7:00-8:30 every Thursday evening at GFC. Find out about future studies, dinners, hikes, and other events by joining us online at facebook.com/groups/gfcsingleadults.
Groups are a great way to meet people, grow spiritually, and make a larger church seem smaller. Several types of groups are available for every stage of life: Marriage, Premarital, Men’s, Women’s, Singles, Senior Adults, Financial Peace, and more.
Sign UP: gfcnow.com/groups