We like labels. They identify where things belong. In our garage there are stacks of plastic bends, my wife has meticulously labeled each one. The benefit is that when we are looking for something it is more easily located. Frustration comes when bends have been mislabeled. Ever look for something, and you knew where it was suppose to be, only to find that the box has the wrong label, and now you have no idea where to find it.
When it comes to people we are in a love/hate relationship with labels. We are Democrats/Republicans, Methodist/Baptist, Conservative/Liberal, American/French, Christian/Muslim, Black/White, and the labels can go on and on. The positive nature of labels helps us to identify those who are like us, but the negative is that labels can be used to segregate people. Labels don’t tell us who we are, only parts of who we are.
There are really only two labels that count; the labels of SINNER and REDEEMED. Those two labels, when applied appropriately, tell us everything we need to know. We are sinners, each and everyone us. That doesn’t mean we can’t do good things, because a lot of people give money to the poor, help the downcast, walk little old ladies across the street, and so forth. But our hearts are stained with sin. We have a strong tendency toward selfish desires, and anything that sets itself up against God. Bottom line we all fall short of God’s standard. The label SINNER applies to all people, of all races, of all religions, of all genders, and of all political persuasions. We are all in rebellion against God.
God, in His justice, will deal sternly with all who rebel against Him. Yet, God, in His mercy, doesn’t relish punishing any of us. He therefore takes out His label gun and desires to give us all a new label. This label, however, is applied only to those who want the new tag. God has dealt with the rebellion issue by labeling Jesus as a sinner and punishing him. If we confess our sin, accept Jesus as our substitute, believe that he was raised from the dead; we get a new label – REDEEMED!
Having the REDEEMED label means that I am no longer an enemy of God. It means I receive the gift of His Spirit. It means that I am a part of the community of the REDEEMED. It means that I have purpose, hope, and a future. It is a much better label than sinner.
Some people aren’t comfortable with the REDEEMED label. It doesn’t seem to fit well, and they feel it too restrictive, prudish, old fashioned, and so they chose to keep the old label SINNER, and hope the other label doesn’t really matter.
But it does matter and that is why those with the REDEEMED label are constantly trying to get others to accept it. The odd thing is that people with the SINNER label, often think that REDEEMED labeled people are exclusive, but they’re not. In fact the REDEEMED label is free to all who will follow Jesus.
So whether you are Democrats/Republicans, Methodist/Baptist, Conservative/Liberal, American/French, Christians/Muslim, Black/White, the only important labels are SINNER and REEDEEMED. Which label do you wear? I’m just saying…