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September 17, 2007

A New Name

AS AN OUTSIDER, I joined the faculty at Toccoa Falls College 25 years ago; and I immediately felt sincere acceptance and unreserved support from other faculty and staff. Yet I kept hearing unknown names and historical references that everyone else was familiar with. Knowing I had come to a rich and worthy tradition, I for awhile felt like a transplant. But I learned the names and became familiar with the references, students papered my yard indicating I was accepted, and my identity with the college became strong. For years now, I have worn the Toccoa Falls mantle proudly, always attempting to defend and protect its name.

Yet my highest identity came as a child when God bestowed on me the honor of becoming a Christian. To be a CHRIST-ian literally means to be a “little Christ”—to identify with Him, to honor, serve, and represent Him. In many ways, I have made a name for myself that is not very complimentary; but He has given me the privilege of wearing an immaculate name that is unstained. His name has become my name. I identify more as a Christian than as a Murphree.

A name is a badge of character, standing for the person who carries it. One cannot say something either good or bad about Jon Tal Murphree without complimenting or insulting me. Because I bear Christ’s name, it cannot be disparaged or profaned without hurting me.

Identifying with Toccoa Falls makes me a part of a cherished tradition and gives me the privilege of representing its fellowship wherever I go. But as Christians, we identify infinitely beyond ourselves and are given the authority to represent Christ in the world.

“The disciples were called Christian . . .” (Acts 11:26)

(By Dr. Jon Tal Murphree, Toccoa, Georgia, TFC Professor Emeritus. Taken from the book: Leaves From the Tree God Planted © 2006 by Toccoa Falls College, p.20-21)