In HOPE 9.17

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David Timms

 Prayer for Today

Father, I want to live out the gospel label -- your "beloved child." Sweep out the trash that has accumulated in the corners of my life and replace it with truth. And grant me the grace to lay aside the labels of my wounds, and withdraw the hurtful and ungracious labels I assign to others. May I -- and they -- find new life this day in Your label. Amen.


"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" ...  remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."
Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV)

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“... Gentiles ... uncircumcision ... separate ... excluded ... strangers ... no hope ... without God ... far off ..." 
~ Ephesians 2:11-13 (NASB)


Living the Label

Labels are helpful on canned goods but generally harmful on us. Yet, long before calories, ingredients, and FDA approvals showed up on our grocery items, we assigned labels to each other.

A friend of mine likes to describe me (jokingly, I hope) as a "left-wing pinko Commie-rat Bible-soft bleeding-heart liberal woosie." Many labels stick like glue throughout our lives. And even if they're not constantly re-spoken by others we regularly replay them within our own hearts.

My dictionary separates the word "label" from the word "libel" with 23 pages of other words, but the two words often belong side-by-side. Which of us has not been wounded by a label? Who among us has not been scarred by a painful sticker?

Some labels puff us up; most beat us down. War and racism rely on labels to dehumanize people and make it easier to vilify, hate, or even kill them. Labels produce a "convenient distance."

So, we live in the world at arm's length.

The labels create an exclusion zone around us that allows us to disregard or even hurt others. Labels detract from the reality and humanity of those around us. Us and them.

But the gospel won't letus live in such isolation. It demands that we treat others as people, not products.

To perpetuate destructive labels is to deny and defy the gospel, the good news, that Christ breaks down all the barriers and restores us again to the Father, and to each other. Indeed, the labels are often the lies that keep us from entering the doors of freedom and intimacy with Christ.  

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, he spelled out a number of wounding and distancing labels. And then he highlighted that the work of Christ brings us all near, into one body, into fellow-citizenship, and into a single family (God's household).

The label that defines us truest and best is simply "the beloved children of God." It opens the door to life at a new level. Today, may we find the conviction and courage to discard the painful labels that we speak to ourselves and to others.





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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.