Revelation 3:5 – The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (ESV)
Over the years, I have acquired various labels: Sales Agent, Sales Executive, Regional Sales Executive, Youth Worker, Bible Student, Pastor, Caretaker, Religious Education Teacher, Information and Specialist Software Adviser in Higher Education, and School Governor, all of which have gained me recognition. It is all about achievement, recognition, status, self-esteem, and ego. It was my understanding, by upbringing, that if I had a good label, I could go to sleep knowing that I was worth something to myself, my employers, my wife and children — and by implication, God.
However, there was another set of labels that I had acquired that were not so flattering: Unsuccessful, Untrainable, Unteachable, Deep-as-a-Puddle, Failure, Unemployed, Evil, Sinner, Resentful, Divorcee, Rebel, etc. (I saved my blushes by limiting the list!)
When, after nineteen years of marriage, my wife went back to work, and I became House-Husband, Housekeeper, Stay-At-Home Dad, and Full-Time Father to a four-year-old and a two-year-old toddler, I learnt the meaning of a new set of labels. I found it quite stressful to lose my King-Of-The-Castle status outside the house, at work, and in life.
Now, as a participant in the Growing Leaders course, the vicar has assigned me a mentor. He was a social worker who currently works for a bereavement charity, Winston's Wish. We are of a similar age and share a lot of issues and past on which to reflect and pray.
During our last meeting, he pointed out my perceived need for a good label. Labels of success were important to me, but earlier in my life, my labels were not that encouraging. However, our identity as a Christian is more than what we do.
So, I went to Jesus with this realization of my need for respectable labels and of my still carrying the hurts from some labels which were maybe true but damaging and/or misleading.
His word to me was simple and direct: "Let go of the need for having a label that you desire and for not having a label that you dread. Instead, hold onto the faith that you have in Me, and the name that I have given you: My Child For Eternity!"
For those in the kingdom, the same is true for you, too. So today, you have a choice: to seek the labels of this world, or to take up your cross and follow Him.
Prayer: Lord, it is wonderful to be in Your kingdom, and to know the blessings that come from You: forgiveness, love, and acceptance through our trust in You. It is a mystery that You, our God, went to the cross to set us free from the barbs and desires of this world, because You love us more than we can comprehend or even believe. We thank You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "My Jesus I Love Thee" (Lyrics)