Labels

I’m not a huge fan of labels. Ok, let me clarify. When I go shopping, a price label is a good thing. When I receive a package from UPS, I take a look at the label to see who it is from. When I am at an art store, the label helps me know what exactly the artist was attempting to convey with the painting. (I’m not much of a connoisseur, so the description helps.) So when I say I’m not a huge fan of labels, I’m really talking about labels that apply to people.

labelsweb

Let’s be honest; labels on people generally have a negative connotation. We don’t necessarily label people as “awesome” or “outstanding.” Instead, we label them as lazy, arrogant, self-centered, indifferent, annoying… should I stop? Those are the kind of labels that we put on people. It seems that God labels people, too. But it’s not in the way you think.

Exodus 39:30-31 They made the plate, the sacred emblem, out of pure gold and engraved on it, like an inscription on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. 31 Then they fastened a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban, as the Lord commanded Moses. 

So here’s how it went down: they made this “holy to the Lord” label and fastened it to the garments of the priests. Now that’s a good label! Let it be known that God calls me holy! Watch out people, I’m holy to the Lord. It’s written right here on my uniform. That makes it true.

1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” You are chosen. You are a priest. You are a holy nation. You know what that means? It means you get to wear the uniform with the label, too.

God looks at you, His son or His daughter, and proclaims out over you: “HOLY!” You have been marked. You have been labeled. You have been set apart for the purposes of God. Wear your badge proud, my friends. Because the God of the universe sees you as holy. So be holy. Set your heart on it, set your mind on it. In fact, set your whole life on it. After all, Jesus set his whole life of attaining that holiness for you.

The Red Jersey Team

I like a good pickup game. Basketball, soccer, football… doesn’t matter. It’s just fun to compete. It gets the heart rate going, the blood flowing, the body sore. All that good stuff. The problem with a pickup game is trying to remember who is on your team. It’s fairly simple if there’s only a few players, but it takes me a while to get the hang of it if there’s several people. That’s why when I’m coaching youth soccer, I have the kids wear practice jerseys when we scrimmage. Otherwise, they start passing the ball to a kid on the other team. Well that do that regardless, but you get the point.

red-practice-jerseySo on go the practice jerseys. This side gets to wear the red ones. That way you will know who is on each team. If you came to practice in a red shirt, then you are on the red team. That’s just how it works. You’ve now been marked. You are a red. Ready, set, play!

In the Bible, Aaron was marked, too. In fact, he even wore the red jersey. Sort of. He was actually marked with blood. Check it out.

Exodus 29:19-21 19 “Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar. 21 And take some blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.

They were marked for a team – God’s team. They were consecrated because of the red jersey blood. To consecrate means: to make or declare sacred, to set apart or dedicate. This is what they were. They were marked, dedicated, declared sacred. This moment in their lives was the moment that defined their service to God. They had been chosen, they had been set apart, and they had been declared sacred by the blood.

You have, too. Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. For every single magnificent part of you… also for the not so magnificent parts of you. You are covered, in a figurative sense, by the blood of Jesus. You have been marked as holy by His sacrifice! You too have been chosen. You have been set apart. And you have been declared sacred. Receive that today. Embrace it. Let it determine your worth and your thoughts and your steps.

You are wearing the red jersey. You are on His team. Now go get in the game!

Tigger, not Eeyore

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 

Let’s first notice that this verse does not say, “But you are worthless, messed up, sin-stained people.  How in the world could Christ possibly love you?  It’s unbelievable that you would even think you could do something significant for the glory of God.”  Why would I say that?  Because it seems as though God’s people have a case of stolen identity.  So often, we come to God in our state of brokenness feeling pretty lousy about ourselves.  Now inherently there is nothing wrong with that, for compared to Him we are kind of lousy by nature.  But there’s this subtle trap of the enemy to keep us feeling lousy.  So we live like unchosen, common, unholy, orphans.  That’s not who we are.

We are chosen, royal, holy, and adopted!  We have got to embrace that identity and start acting like it.  Many Christians walk around like Eeyore when they should be bouncing off the walls like Tigger.  Where’s the joy, adopted one?  Where’s the security, you who are chosen?  God has called us out of darkness and into His glorious light, yet we continue to run for the shadows.  We forget who we are and let the lie define us.  We get caught in the trap of who we used to be and it keeps us from living for Him.

It’s time to embrace the truth, friends.  It’s time to start living like the royalty we are in Christ.  Yes, now is the time to start singing His praises and proclaiming His greatness.  Today is the day to stand up proud and tall and declare who you are.  You are chosen to be royalty. In Him, you are made Holy.  And best of all… you are His.  So when you hear the deceiver whispering in your ear, simply say: “you’re messing with the wrong person, I belong to Jesus.”

Does God only choose ugly people?

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

I have heard this verse quoted hundreds of times and have probably quoted it myself dozens of times.  It comes immediately after Samuel sees Jesse’s son Eliab and thinks, “this guy looks like a king.”  I don’t know what made him look like a king, but apparently Samuel thought so.  God interrupts Samuel’s thought process and tells him that it is the heart that counts, not the outward appearance.  “What are you saying, Lord?  Do you only choose ugly people?”  Put your self in Samuel’s shoes; now you are looking for an ugly dude with a good heart.  At least that is the conclusion I would come to.

However, this isn’t at all what happened.  What follows are two references to David’s good looks.  This guy was a handsome stud… and he had a good heart, too.  In fact in verse 18, he is described as being a musician, brave, a warrior, well-spoken, and good-looking. He wasn’t remotely ugly and yet God chose him.  The thing is: the looks were just an accessory, a bonus.  They didn’t really matter to God; the heart mattered.  And David’s heart was good.  He loved and served the Lord.  He was chosen for his heart!  That is what mattered to God.

Friends, that IS what matters to God.  He is after our hearts and yet some of us spend more time combing or styling our hair than we do examining our hearts before the Lord.  We spend more time shopping for clothes than obeying his commands.  Don’t get me wrong, clothes are good and combed hair looks nice.  You can be good-looking; it’s okay.  It’s just that those things are way less important to God.  So I suggest we carve some time out in our lives to work on our hearts.  I suggest we dedicate our whole lives to striving for His heart.  In the end, that’s all that really matters.