I’m not a big fan of labels. I have a 68 VW Beetle. Does that make me a “VW Man?”
I have a 2008 Ford Edge. Does that make me a “Ford Man?”
I have been married to the same beautiful women for over 30 years. Does that make me a “One Woman Man?” Okay, I don’t really mind that label…
When people ask me about the church I co-pastor, Remnant, I try to explain it the best I can. Invariably, if the person asking is a pastor of another church my answers lead to more questions. Then the labels come.
“Oh, so Remnant is ‘seeker-sensitive’?” Um, yeah, we try to be sensitive to everyone.
“Oh, you are a ‘niche church’, reaching out to certain types of people?” Sure if you consider anybody with a pulse a certain type of person.
“Oh, you are a ‘modern church?” Well, yes, we use modern things like music and preaching to reach out to people. So, I guess we’re modern.
Why are we so caught up with labels? Why do we struggle so hard to put churches or people into little tiny boxes? Soren Kierkegaard said, “Once you label me, you negate me.” When we label somebody or something, we are saying that we know everything about them. We have enough information to put them in a certain cubby-hole and that somehow makes us feel better. The problem is that labels are not always accurate, and they certainly don’t tell the whole story.
What about the label of Christian? Do you call yourself a Christian? If so, what does that mean? It has become a generic term these days, and people use it far too loosely. Christian literally means “one who follows Christ” or “one who is like Christ.” Now ask yourself if the term Christian applies to you.
I most often these days call myself a Christ Follower instead of Christian. No matter how hard I try, I am not like Christ. I do my best, but I am far away from his level. I follow his teaching, I follow the way he asked me to live, I follow his guidance. I told Remnant last week that the greatest threat to Christianity isn’t another religion, or drugs, or anything else, it is people who call themselves Christians and don’t live it.
Dropping the labels brings freedom. Pastor Craig Groeschel said, “Peeling off the labels that cling to our reputation brings great freedom for us as individuals and as the global body of believers known as the Church. Only when we push past those artificial constraints can we truly become who God created us to be.”
There are a lot of people who have not rejected Christ, but they have rejected his church. They still want to know more about Jesus, they just may not want to do it in a church setting because they have labeled “church” as something negative. “Oh, I grew up in church, I don’t ever want to go back.” If that is how you feel, maybe, just maybe, you need to look at church again. Take a look at three or four if you need to. My guess is that unless you are totally close-minded, you will find one that hits you in the right way.
As for me, I just keep doing my thing. Following Jesus and his teachings, and trying to be the best follower of his I can be. Am I perfect? No, and if you don’t believe me ask my wife! But I am trying to show the world that someone who follows Christ can be positive and make a mark for good wherever they go.
Peeling off labels… Jerry