Whenever I visit the Korean Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, I notice that the people seldom refer to one another by their first name. They speak formally of each other and to each other—Mr. Kim, Mr. Pyen, Mrs. Hugh. One day I asked Mr. Pyen about this custom. He replied, “Only when we know people intimately do we use their first name.”
Perhaps that’s why I responded negatively when the head of a religious organization wrote me asking for my financial support. He began, “Dear Dennis,” and signed his letter, “Bob.” It was an impersonal form letter dressed in the garb of familiarity.
Jesus calls us by name because He knows us so well. That’s the picture we get in John 10. When an oriental shepherd was with the same flock for many years, he developed a close relationship with each animal. He would give them descriptive names like “Brown-leg” or “Black-ear.” And when he called them, they responded to his voice.
So too, when Jesus asks us to follow and obey Him, His call comes with the promise of the protection, guidance, sustenance, and rest that we need at that time in our lives. His call is suited to our needs because He knows us intimately. He knows us on a first-name basis.
My Shepherd is the Lord who knows my needs,
And I am blest;
By quiet streams, in pastures green, He leads
And makes me rest. —Psalter
You’re not just a number computers can trace; Christ knows your need, your name, and your face.