One of my favorite tools is the Label-maker! It can change your life, especially if you are neat-freak! Labels enable you to create the perception that everything is always in the right place. You can categorize things, and organize all your stuff into clusters. And the best part is, you never need to open a drawer or a cabinet to rummage through all the mess on the inside, just read the label.
We even like to label each other. We label people by what they do, where they’re from, what they look like, how big their bank account is, or isn’t. We categorize people by their level of education, what part of town they live in, how they speak, the color of their skin. You name it and we have a label for it! It’s just so convenient to attach a label to the outside, and never worry about sifting through a person’s mess on the inside. We even label ourselves, convincing ourselves that we must wear that assigned label for the rest of our lives.
Yes, labels are powerful and can alter a person’s life forever! Remember that “wee-little man,” Zacchaeus, in Luke’s gospel (Luke 19:1-10)? He was labeled by his entire community as a dreadful person. A pariah, getting rich by extorting his neighbors. Zacchaeus’ label was clear to everyone in Jericho, “TAX COLLECTOR – STAY AWAY!”
Those people that labeled Zacchaeus, labeled Jesus too, “Guest of a Sinner” (Luke 19:7)! Fortunately for Zacchaeus, Jesus does not accept what the label says on the outside. He likes to open the drawer and sift through the mess on the inside.
God is only concerned with two categories of people: Sinners who are Lost, and sinners who are Found, and the Bible says that Jesus “came to seek and save the [sinners who are] Lost” (Luke 19:10). It’s time for the church to follow suit. It’s time for the church to take on the label, “friend of sinners,” and go out into our label-making world, “to seek and save the lost!”