“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5 ESV)
Over the years I have acquired various labels: Sales Executive, Regional Sales Executive, Sales Agent and Youth Worker, Bible Student, Pastor, Caretaker, R.E. Teacher, Information and Specialist Software Adviser in Higher Education, School Governor, all of which have gained me recognition. It is all about achievement and recognition, status, self-esteem and Ego. It was my understanding, by upbringing, that if I had a good label, I could go to sleep knowing that I was worth something to myself, my employer, my wife and children – and by implication God.
However there was another set of labels that I had acquired that were not so flattering: Unsuccessful, Untrainable, Unteachable, Deep-as-a-Puddle, Failure, Unemployed, Evil, Sinner, Resentful, Divorcee and Rebel etc. (I saved my blushes by limiting the list!)
When, after nineteen years of marriage my wife went back to work, I became a house-husband and house-keeper, Full-Time Father to a four-year old, two-year old toddler, I learnt the meaning of a new set of labels. I found it quite stressful to lose my King-of-the-castle status outside of the house and at work, in life.
Now, as a stay-at-home dad, and a participant in the “Growing Leaders” course, I have been assigned a mentor by the vicar. He was a social worker who currently works for a bereavement charity Winston’s Wish, and we are of a similar age and share a lot of issues and past on which to reflect and pray.
During our last meeting he pointed out to me this perceived requirement for a label. Labels of success were important to me. Earlier in life they were not that encouraging, but life as a Christian is more than what you do.
So I went to Jesus with this realisation of my need for respectable labels, and that I still carry the hurts from some labels which were maybe true but damaging and/or misleading.
His word to me was simple and direct. Let go of the necessity for having a label you desire, or dread, and hold onto the faith you have in Me, and the Name that I have given you as my child for eternity!
For those in the Kingdom the same is true for you too. So today you have a choice, to take up your cross and follow Him, or to seek the labels of this world.
Prayer: LORD, it is wonderful to be in the Kingdom of God. To know the blessings that comes from you: forgiveness, love and acceptance through trust in You. It is a mystery that You, our God, went to the cross to set us free from the barbs and desires of this world because You love us more than we can comprehend or even believe, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen