I don’t love labels. I think our society doesn’t either. In the very basic sense, we’ve removed labels off of clothing whenever possible, removing the bothersome itching. In a philosophical sense, our society is trying to remove labels of any kind, even down to whether you are a man or woman.
But try as we might, we can’t seem to get away from them. Some labels we try to give ourselves. The good ones, of course. The ones that make us seem like Wonderwoman. Labels that define us in the best ways possible. Labels we try to wear to show everyone that we have it all together.
Some labels just are. I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a writer, the list goes on.
But then there are those labels we hate. The ones that other people put on us. Whether its through misunderstanding, or diagnosis, or something beyond our control, sometimes we have no choice on the labels put on us. Words like cancer patient, or disabled, or mental illness, or a host of other labels can be our story, even when we don’t want them to be.
We collect these labels our whole lives. Sometimes they change, sometimes we’re stuck with them, but always, we seemed to be labeled.
I recently got a new label. A scary label from a doctor. And I panicked. How could I present this label to the world in the best way possible? How could I walk around with this label without people treating me differently? What would people say?
Then I started thinking…is this how God sees me? Does He just see this giant label on me now? Can our lives be defined by only one label?
There’s a woman in John chapter 4 who was labeled. First, she was a woman. A second class citizen. Not someone people would expect Jesus to notice. Second, she was a Samaritan. A people group hated by the Jews. The result of an unholy marriage between a Jew and a Gentile. The Jews would go out of their way to avoid Samaria and any dealings with the Samaritans. Third, she would have been considered an outcast for her lifestyle. I’m sure the labels put on her by other women were not words that would even be fit to write down.
She had five different husbands and was living with a man she was not even married to. In every way possible, she was at the bottom of society. Wearing labels that assured she was an outcast.
Yet Jesus went out of His way to find her. Those labels didn’t matter to Him. It didn’t matter that she was a woman, a Samaritan, an outcast. He just wanted her to have one label.
He saw her as another soul He wanted to save. He wanted to know her, to talk to her, to have a relationship, to offer her the water of life so she would never thirst again. He saw past all her labels, some given to her by society, some she had given herself. But He saw past them all to one.
She was His. He had created her. He loved her. No matter what.
And when she realized how He loved her, she couldn’t help but tell everyone. She couldn’t help but tell them, He knew what I had done, every label I had, but He loved me anyway. Is this not the Christ?
Is this not our God? Our God that has one label for us? Daughter. Adopted, beloved, daughter.
So the answer is yes. Our lives can be defined by just one label. There is one that transcends all the others. It’s one so big and so beautiful that it overshadows all the others. Its a label available to all, free grace to those who believe.