Labels. Labels can be very helpful. How would I know to wash my hair twice during every shower if the label didn’t tell me to “Rinse. Repeat.” No, seriously. Labels are extremely important. When contents are hazardous, I want a label to warn me. If I’m trying to eat healthy food, the label comes in handy to identify the ingredients and their sugar, fat and calorie content. “Batteries not Included” and “Some Assembly Required” are good additions to labels. But there is a place where labels are not appreciated. Labels don’t belong on people.
Some of Paul’s observers took what little exposure they had to his ministry and drew conclusions, labeling Paul. They labeled him arrogant, greedy, bossy, crazy! Do you ever feel like some people have labeled you? They stick a name on you and they never treat you any differently than what their own uninformed label says about you. It’s a final judgment. Nothing you do seems to convince them that they have labeled you, and that they got it wrong. Worse yet, have you labeled people in your world, your church, your family? Are you ever going to peel that thing off and take a fresh look inside?
Paul says, “God knows who I am. It’s plain as can be to Him.” And if people take the time and make the effort, they can see past the surface into a person’s heart. Yes, we act crazy sometimes, but it’s because we dance to God’s rhythm and not the world’s. Yes, our boldness seems a bit arrogant sometimes, but it’s because we revere God’s expectations of us, and not man’s. If you tore your label off me and looked hard into my jar, you’d see that the compelling love of Christ is my main ingredient. Christ has made me a new creature; if you don’t know what He’s about, then you really don’t know me. Especially since that transformation came through His reconciling death and resurrection!
Bringing sinful humanity and holy God back together again – that was the ministry of Christ, and now it is our ministry. Regardless of what others may say about me, God says I am a reconciled reconciler. I am an ambassador, representing Jesus in my mercifully renewed self, pleading with a world that is accurately labeled by God – “lost and dying.” And I love that world. As did Christ, from the beginning. And His love in my heart compels me to press on through the name-calling, through the mis-labeling, to plead with my neighbor, “Be reconciled to God!”
He let Himself be labeled “SIN” so that you and I could be labeled “Righteous.”
Pray: Loving, Re-Creator God, thank you for the new creature you have made me. I will never know the depths of suffering You plumbed to bring me back to You. And so I honor You; I fear You; I represent You – and no other. And I accept no other name than the name You have given me. Child of God. Ambassador of Christ. Help me to love and not label. Make your appeal to a dying world through me.