Name-droppers. You know who I’m talking about. In normal conversation, they seem to be able to work in the name of some famous (or quasi-famous) individual they think you might know. The conversation could be about the internet, and somehow you learn in its course that he knows someone who knows Al Gore. Or maybe the conversation is about worship music, and she drops the name of her personal friend, “Lincoln Brewster,” in there a few times. Sometimes it’s a sprinkling on the top of the conversation. And other times, the conversation takes a 90 degree turn, becoming more about the name-dropper’s relationship with their friend (the dropped name) than about the original topic at hand.
The funny thing is that the dropped name is usually “a good friend” of the dropper’s. “Yeah, we used to hang out.” Or “I know his family real well.” When in actuality, if you pry into their relationship, you find out the name-dropper delivered desk-mail to the droppee at some point. Or shook their hand after a conference. Or maybe they’re friends on Facebook (which, we all know, means that their friendship is firmly established, of course).
Why do they do it? Because they honestly believe that dropping the name of a famous person makes them seem more intelligent, informed, or significant. For some reason, just being who they are doesn’t speak loud enough. They think that by connecting themselves with someone more established, they’ll be able to fabricate more respect in their relationship with you.
I’ve met people who use the name of Jesus in that way. They’re Name-droppers. When things seem to be beyond their realm of control, they’ll drop the name of Jesus (or more frequently, “God”), and expect that everything will magically get better. Their parents or grandparents were strong believers. And according to the Name-dropper, that gives him or her the privilege of dropping the name of God into any conversation – thereby automatically increasing their level of significance and faith. It’s like a lucky charm. “I know someone who knows Him. That gives me the privilege of claiming personal relationship.“
In Acts 19, we read a story of some Jewish exorcists (magicians, more than likely) who tried to drop two names at once in order to capitalize on Gods power over demons. Ephesus was home to a 400 foot tall by 200 foot wide statue of Artemis, the Greek multi-breasted goddess of fertility. Thousands of pilgrims came to her regularly to receive the blessings they thought she could give. These Jewish exorcists had allowed Greek mythology to infect their historic belief systems, and began to assimilate her into their religion.
Along comes Paul (Acts 19:11-17). God was doing some crazy amazing stuff through Paul. Just touching a garment Paul had worn was bringing healing from disease and freedom from demonic stronghold. The Jewish exorcists saw this, and they wanted a piece of the action. So they became Name-droppers. To a demon, they said, “I command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” Somehow, they thought, the demons would be impressed by their imagined relationship with Paul and Jesus. Somehow, they thought, saying what Paul said and sprinkling on top the name of Jesus would give them authority over evil. Somehow, they thought, if they could just throw the name of Jesus and a great Apostle in there, the demons would bow at their feet and pay homage to their power and ability. They thought they would be more significant. More authoritative. More effective… if they just dropped the names of Jesus and Paul in there.
Well, reading on, we see that the demons overpowered the seven Jewish exorcists and made fools out of them. They said, “Jesus we know, and Paul we recognize. But who are you?!” Of course the demons knew Jesus. He created them as angels, before they rebelled against Him. And of course they knew Paul. God was using him like they had never seen before. But the seven sons of Sceva, these Jewish exorcists… to the demons, these guys were just Name-droppers. They had no personal relationship with Jesus. Not really.
Simply speaking the name of Jesus, or appealing to an authoritative church figure will never help you overcome evil. If it is evil you are facing… if it is sin you are battling against… if it is direction and wisdom you need… victory comes from a PERSONAL relationship with Christ. You can drop the name of Jesus wherever you’d like. You can name and claim everything you can possibly imagine. But don’t expect evil to gravel at your feet in submission unless you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
That means Christians too. Some of us have been sucked into the erroneous belief that if we’ll just speak the name of Jesus over our problems, they will magically vanish, and we’ll capitalize on the power He has over circumstances and sin alike. But God’s desire is for us to know Him. (See John 17:3.) Not to walk for months without studying or considering His word, then suddenly drop His name when we feel it will give us more significance, security, authority, or power.
Without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, those who drop His name have one thing awaiting them. Shame. That’s what happened to the seven sons of Sceva. They were overpowered by evil, and they ran away naked and ashamed.
1. Your relationship with some spiritual giant is not enough to overcome evil. Heaven won’t be filled with spiritual Name-droppers. It will be occupied by those who KNOW Jesus.
2. Overcoming evil can only be accomplished through the power of God by way of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. Attempting to overcome evil without the power of God by way of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will result in failure and shame. Count on it.
Grace and Peace,