“We are what we believe we are.”  C.S. Lewis

Our family has been on an extended trip across the West.  One of the first impressions we make on people we encounter is the “uniqueness” of our accents.  We are immediately labeled as Southerners…and all the preconceived notions that come with it!

Have you ever felt labeled?  Sometimes we just can’t outrun our past.  Perhaps we’ve made distinct impressions on others because of something that we said or did when we were younger.  Maybe it was a mistake we made- unfortunately- in front of a large group of people.  Labels can be hurtful and damaging.

Jesus was labeled.

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son?  Is not his mother called Mary?  And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us?  Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Matthew 13: 53-57

Despite hearing His teachings and seeing the miracles, many Nazarenes could not fathom the greatness of Jesus.  They had known Him from his youth.  How could this ordinary man be the key to salvation and eternal life?

Of course- this scene from Matthew and many others captured in scripture did not define Jesus.  He was labeled all of His life.  Ordinary.  A fraud.  Common.

But Jesus knew His purpose and mission and He fully embraced His calling.

How are you labeled?  How do labels limit your effectiveness in your walk with Jesus?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

I need to remember it’s not where I started- or even where I am.  It’s about where I want to be.  I want to be a Christ-follower.  That’s the label I want.

Please pray for me to lay aside all obstacles that keep me from pursuing the truth.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.


4 thoughts on “Labeled

  1. Kelli Jo McNemar (MC 98) says:

    Praying that all who cross your path know that you are a follower of Christ (without you having to tell them about your label). How blessed I am to have crossed your path and to know your heart through your actions (and not your label)!

  2. So true, Keith. We all are labeled and those labels are based on different factors but one important one is our actions of the past. We call that our reputation. That is one reason it is so hard to make significant changes in our lives. Once we are labeled a Christian or a Crook, a Champion or a Cheater, a Leader or a Loser it is very hard to change those labels, both in the minds of others and in our own minds.

  3. Alan Hughey says:

    How am I labeled?
    As the biological son of a severe alcholic and womanizer – I remember being told “the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree” at an early age. To make matters worse I not only have his surname but also his given name. For the last 30 years when people discovered my given name “xxxxx” (which I use my middle name always) they would often say “Are you related to THE “xxxxxx”? I say “Yes but my mother reared me – not him.” Our God loving mother decided to take us away from him and begin a new life. In the 60’s that was tough but we prevailed. Our deep rooted faith kept our heads up in spite of the sly remarks and raised eyebrows that came with our last name label. Staying on the path of faith with a realization we have something better waiting on us on the other side has allowed us to prevail over the labels.

    You are 100% dead on Keith. It’s about ‘where we want to be’ and keep on that path.

    Great message brother. Hits home.

    – Alan

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