Labels tell us many things. When it comes to a product, a label can give us important information – like what the product is, who made it, what is contained in it, and what caution we should have with the item. Labels like that can be helpful.
Labels on people can do the same thing.
The question is who gets to put labels on people – especially other people?
Ideally, the only labels that exist on someone are the self-imposed ones. That’s the healthiest labels anyway.
But society has been labeling people for a long time – maybe as long as organized society has existed. That’s because there is great power in labeling someone else.
I’ve have it happen to me, as I’m sure you have too. I’ve been labeled many things over the years. Often the labels that others try to attach to me are either exaggerations or just plain wrong.
I’ve had people go so far as to label me and when I protest the label they insist that they are right and I am wrong. As if they get to determine how I should be labeled. Sorry, (not sorry), but you don’t get to label me without my permission. I’ve been labeled when it comes to politics, religion, and more. I usually will push back on such labels, because the power to label someone is the power over someone else.
There are many segments of society that have had to deal with being labeled for a long time. Think of any group of people who have been on the margins of society. They get labeled all the time. And usually in unflattering ways that highlights some kind of danger or threat that people in that group have to others – mostly people in groups that have power and influence in society.
Labeling is powerful. And destructive.
The only label that matters though, and is most accurate, is this label – Image of God. You bear the Image of God, dear reader. That’s the label I’m sticking on you. I hope it is a label that you can embrace.