Which clubs do you belong to? Which labels can you add to your name? Labels can give prestige and honor, and sometimes even protect you. Believe me; I would have second thoughts about harassing someone who called themselves “Navy Seal” or “karate black belt.” Maybe these aren’t good examples, but my point is that a label might actually save you from trouble… or not.
While having coffee with friends the other day, one of them was telling us about her experiences before leaving the Catholic Church. She said the Catholic Church impressed her as more than a church; it was a lot like a culture. Many Catholic’s she knew came from families who had been Catholic for many generations. The church was very much an extension of their family. Being “Catholic” was all they ever knew, though maybe they really didn’t know what it meant.
My friend told about many Catholics who, though they considered themselves Catholic because their family had always been Catholic, they never or rarely went to church. They had the label “Catholic”, but really didn’t live up to the label.
Our coffee conversation then turned to the dark side of this label business. How many people live under a label of “Catholic” or “Methodist” or “Baptist” or “Christian” or whatever; where they believe they are saved by virtue of their label?
Jesus has something to say to these people…
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)
“I never knew you.” It’s all about a relationship – with Jesus Christ. A label will not save you; a relationship will.
As we silently sat sipping the last of our coffee, we realized how heart-breaking it is: all those who live under the delusion of a label, and will die without really knowing Jesus.