Labels. They are very helpful in most cases.
I want to know what is in my food. I want to know what is in my cleaning supplies. I want to know the warnings associated with my appliances. I want to know the side effects of my medication.
But labels can turn nasty when they are used on people.
He’s the fat guy. She’s the smart one. He’s the funny one. She’s the loud one. He’s a jerk. She’s a loon.
These types of labels take one part of a personality and purport that it is the only, or at least the most important, part of a person. We all logically know this to be true, yet we still do it. We continue to label people and try to define them and put them in a nice, neat box.
The problem is that no one fits in a nice, neat box. We’re all a smorgasbord of personality traits, physical features, emotions, and beliefs, that make up the unique person we are. That unique person was created by God in God’s own image. That’s where we need to be finding our identity – as a child of God.
I’ve often heard that if you sin, you are a sinner; If you commit a crime, you are a criminal; or If you lose your temper, you are a hot-head. I will admit that there is SOME truth in that, but if we allow ourselves to be defined solely by our actions, then we’re missing the big picture.
We are not only the sum of our actions. Yes, our actions matter, and yes, that is how we are judged, but what truly matters is who God says we are. God says we are his children, made in God’s image.
Nothing that we can do will change the fact that God has created us – that he has perfectly and wonderfully made us. When we commit sinful acts, even gross atrocities (whether actual or in our minds), we are still made in God’s image. We are still his children. He’s never going to leave us or abandon us. He’s going to love us and seek a relationship with us NO MATTER WHAT.
Whether a person is a Christ-follower, an atheist, a pagan, or an agnostic, doesn’t matter. He loves each of us the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, male, female, old, young, tall, or short, God loves you, cares for you, and wants a relationship with you.
That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care about your actions – he certainly does. What it does mean is that he loves us all the same. Sometimes love requires discipline, and that certainly is the case with God, but God’s judgment doesn’t negate the fact that he loves us. Our relationship with God will necessarily change how God responds to us – but he loves us all. He demonstrated that fact when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
God has created each of us, and he desires that all people enter into a right relationship with him. But that doesn’t mean he stops or starts loving people based on their decisions.
If you’ve really screwed up lately, I want to give you hope. I want you to know that God still loves you and offers his grace to you. Don’t beat yourself up over your actions. Accept the consequences and move on. Do what you can to make things right, but accept God’s perfect love and forgiveness for yourself. God doesn’t label you based on your sins – he labels you a Child of God based on who you have been created to be.