As soon as the words left my mouth I felt like an idiot.
We were sitting at a restaurant sharing a great meal with a group of people from our house church family. One of our newer members invited his parents to join us. They were visiting from out of State and it was our first time to meet them.
We spent most of our time raving about the amazing food, and the rest of the time sharing wonderful testimonies of what God has been doing in our lives over the years as we've enjoyed learning to "be the church" together.
Then it happened.
My friend's Dad asked me if I'd read the latest book by Frank Viola. I said no, and then he shared with me how great it was and how it had been encouraging him in his walk with Jesus.
My response? I said: "I know Frank, so I'll just send him an email and see if he can send me a copy to review on my blog."
Even as I said it my brain was already back-pedaling. "Did you just say that out loud?"
Yes. I did. I said it.
And I felt like a schmuck the rest of the day.
Sure, it was true. I do know Frank Viola. I've interviewed him a few times. We've talked on the phone. He even mentioned me on his blog the other day. But so what?
I mean, who cares if I know Frank Viola? Or Jon Zens? Or Milt Rodriguez? Or Felicity Dale? Or Ross Rohde? Or Neil Cole? [I know all of those people, by the way].
Who really cares?
Well, for starters, I do.
I care because mentioning those names makes me feel important. It makes me feel like I belong to an elite group of experts who deserve respect and attention. It lets everyone know that I'm probably someone they should be proud to know, too.
But honestly, I doubt anyone has ever dropped my name to impress anyone.
That's the truth.
This "Respect by Association" game is our way of adding ourselves to a circle of people who we look up to, in the hopes that somehow we might also elevate ourselves.
I'm guilty as charged.
I'm like Will Ferrell in "Elf" every time someone mentions Santa Claus, I scream "I know him!"
But all of this talk about name-dropping has made me realize something else: I can drop the biggest name of all.
See, I happen to know the guy who designed DNA. I'm also a very good friend of the person who created the universe.
You know the guy who invented stuff like music, and sex, and puppies, and sunsets, and the ocean, and coffee, and chocolate, and love? Yeah, he's my BFF.
In fact, I was just talking to Him earlier today. He's crazy about me. Seriously. He really can't stop thinking about me. He loves me, like, a whole lot. It's almost embarrassing, really.
But what's really cool is this: That guy? He isn't unapproachable. He doesn't travel with an entourage. He doesn't have a rider that specifies a certain audience size before He'll agree to make an appearance. In fact, He'll show up and hang out if there's even two people in the room who are interested in hearing from Him.
Not only that, this person actually wants to share His fame with me. He wants me to be like Him. He wants me to talk like He does. He wants me to act like He acts. He wants me to love the way He loves. He actually wants me to impersonate Him whenever possible.
The big difference between name-dropping Jesus and all other name-dropping is that when we name-drop Jesus we're not elevating ourselves, we're humbling ourselves.
When we mention His Name, we're admitting that His love for us isn't something we deserve, but it's something He lavishes upon us simply because of who He is, not because of who we are.
He's not too important to be seen with us. He's not out of reach. He's more than happy to make Himself at home with us, no matter who we are, or where we live, or what we've done, or what we've failed to do.
And that's the kinda guy I want to be seen with.