Letter to Zero

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself,
if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
(Acts 20:24 ESV)

Our fourth child will be named Zero, and he’s due in about two months. And no, it’s not a typo, his name is “Zero.” It is an unusual name, and so we want to explain to others the meaning of this name. And as we’ve done when we introduce the name of each of our children, we’re doing this in the form of a letter, addressed to Zero:

To our dear son Zero:

We’ve been looking forward to meet you, and we want to assure you that you are not here by accident. God knows in advance about every moment of your life. As your parents and as Christ-followers, we want to give you a name that will constantly remind you of the proper perspective to see your identity and your mission in life. We hope that when you read this letter some day, you will gain a greater understanding about your name, Zero.

We are all inclined to define our lives by our wealth, possessions, achievements, and successes, but those things can become our idols. In reality, we are all a bunch of “zeroes”: we bring nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of it (1 Timothy 6:7); and our life span is just as fleeting as a mist that appears briefly and then vanishes (Psalm 39:4-5, James 4:14). But the good news is that Jesus also emptied himself and became a “zero” as he came to earth and died to save us (Philippians 2:5-8), which means that acknowledging your zero-ness is a step toward imitating Christ’s zero-ness. After all, in order to follow Christ, we should forsake everything and deny our lives and take up his cross (Luke 14:33).

In naming you “Zero,” we’re not saying that you should not have money and possessions in your life. Rather, you should not put your self-worth on those things. You should know that your Chinese name — 浩恩 (“great grace”) — adds an important dimension to the meaning of your name. While we can only claim to live a life of zero-ness, we rest assured that God gives us great grace even though we do not deserve it. From that perspective, having zero selfish earthly desires for yourself can be a blessing (Psalm 23:1-2) because your needs and your strength are supplied from God (Psalm 73:25-26), who’s the source of much greater grace and richness than any earthly source can generate. In fact, our wish for you is that you become so deeply touched by God’s grace in your life that you would be like apostle Paul, who did not account any value to his life, but decided his mission in life was to be a testimony to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24).

We rejoice in the fact that whenever there’s a need to explain your name to other people, we’ll be talking about the gospel. After all, being “zero” is foolishness to the world, but its deeper meaning points to Christ and the gospel.

We hope you love the gift of your name.

Love,

Your mom & dad

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