“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:2-3
“He’s a control freak,” a friend said to me one day regarding someone she knew. She was unhappy with some of his actions, and explained them. Her discontent with what he had done was understandable. We moved on to other matters in conversation, and the subject was forgotten. But it arose another time. “He’s a control freak,” she told me again, and we proceeded to discuss whether perhaps the Lord wanted her to address his actions. Then again we moved to other matters. But this time the subject was not forgotten. Not with me anyway. Because I believe God’s Spirit had something to show me. And to lead me to share with others. Maybe you.
If you think this is about control freaks, it’s not. It’s about labels. Undesirable ones. Like control freak. Alcoholic. Addict. Criminal. Convict. Perpetrator. Beggar. Homeless person. Bi-polar. Adulterer. Show-off. Loser. Whatever. We’ve all heard them. Many of us have experienced them. Being called them. Labels. And many of us have called others by labels. As though people are no more than labels. Like their identity is their label. Like they’re on a warehouse conveyer, stamped with a label, shoved in a truck with all the other labels, delivered to a destination, unpacked, shoved onto a shelf, picked up off the shelf or not, whatever. Yeah, whatever. Then we move onto other matters. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what some of us do, and have experienced?
Jesus wasn’t about labels, was He? He didn’t label people and rush off to other matters. He saw need. He had compassion. He spoke the Truth of God’s Word. He loved people. Healed people. Helped people. Delivered people. Set them free. Had mercy on them. Forgave. Prayed for them. Don’t get me wrong. He was tough with them too. Unfathomably tough. He warned them. Knew when to walk away from them. Knew when to let go. But underneath it all He was always about His Father in heaven’s business. Always seeing need and answering it, being a bridge to God. Bringing people to Him. By God’s grace. For those who would come. The invite was for all. To repent and believe in and follow Him.
Grace, yes. Love, mercy, healing, deliverance, help, support. He didn’t see labels. He saw people. Is it possible we are failing to look past people’s labels, especially when people hurt and offend us and/or others, and that we are failing to help lead them to Christ, to show them Christ, to love them in Christ, to warn them as God leads us? Should we not look past the world’s labels and see humans God created in dire need of Christ?