Zak Ebrahim walked out onto the red circle of the TED Talk stage. He began telling the story of El-Sayyid Nosair. In a calm, steady voice, Zak recounted how on November 5, 1990 Nosair walked into the ballroom of a hotel in Manhattan and shot and killed Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane was the leader of the Jewish defense league and had just urged American Jews to move back to Israel before it was too late.
Originally acquitted of the crime, Nosair was put in prison on gun charges. He was given the maximum of twenty-two years on the gun conviction. While in prison he, along with others, planned attacks on New York City landmarks like tunnels, synagogues, and the United Nations headquarters. An FBI informant foiled those plans but was unable to stop the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
The TED audience was polite and listened closely as Zak began telling Nosair’s story. But the mood in the room turned on a dime when Zak said, “El-Sayyid Nosair is my father.” Zak was only seven years old when the bombing happened. His father was grooming him for terrorism too.
You may not be the son or daughter of a terrorist, but you’ve been terrorized. You’ve been terrorized by an Accuser who tells you who you are. “You are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty or handsome enough, not athletic enough, not successful enough.”
Those descriptions become our identity. They become our names. Names are important. They are part of our identity. Once at the start of my sixth grade year my teacher called me “Richard.” I quietly corrected her and said, “It’s Rick.” She argued with me. “No, it’s really Richard and your parents call you Rick for short.” I said, “No ma’am. They said they knew they would just call me Rick so they decided that was what they would name me.”
She wouldn’t let up. I gave up. She called me Richard the rest of the year. And it bugged me because that wasn’t my name.
Whatever name you have heard in your head about who you are is not who you are. That isn’t your name. Paul wouldn’t buy that for a second. In one of the strongest verses in the Bible he writes: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Notice he doesn’t say there is “some condemnation.” He doesn’t say there “will be condemnation if you ever sin again.” He says there is “no condemnation.”
Zak took on a new name. His new name separated him from a terrorist and set him free for a new life of promoting peace and love. Your name has changed too. You are “in Christ Jesus.” Satan can’t find anything to accuse Christ of. And because you are “in Christ” he can’t bring anything against you either.
You’re not who you used to be. You are who you are becoming in Christ. Now go out and live into your new name
— Excerpt from the BELIEVE Study Series by Randy Freeze