Trips to the grocery store take longer because I am still investigating packages to find what's best for my family. It's worth the time. I've become wise enough not to trust the product label. I search to see what's inside.
Labels are deceiving. They make us believe we know what we see. I think about how many times I've bought something - food, theology, relationships - based upon its label without considering all the ingredients. I've allowed labels, rather than the actual contents, to define my choices.
The belittling words of a respected church leader still ring in my ears, sting my heart. He applied the label with a nervous chuckle that did little to hide his lack of understanding. My feeble reply came soft. Then, unwilling and too weak to argue, I seized the first opportunity to escape.
Did the labels stick to Jesus' heart the way this one is sticking to mine?
Since that hurtful conversation, I read some wonderfully wise words written by John Piper. I am studying them, along with the Scriptures listed, to prepare myself to make a defense for the hope in me (see 1 Peter 3:15).
I don't know if I will have the courage to face the one who categorized me, but I do know that I am more than a congregant of a particular church. I am more than a member of a particular denomination. I am more than a believer in a particular theological school of thought.
I am so much more than a label.
I long to be, as Piper so eloquently writes, a [r]adical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursuing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy follower of the omnipotent, crucified Christ! Anything else is not good enough.
I have not attained it, but I keep pressing on. In the meanwhile, I find solace in the words of my Sovereign, who looks behind the label.
For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. ~1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)