My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? -James 2:1-4
We live in a world obsessed with labels: rich/poor, famous/ordinary, athletic/uncoordinated, smart/challenged, computer geek/computer illiterate, black/white/olive, male/female, lower class/middle class/upper class, public/private, corporate/local, republican/democrat, liberal/conservative, progressive/evangelical, SEC/Big 10, Sporty/Artsy, educated/working class, churched/unchurched, saved/lost, Army/Navy (especially this weekend), American/European, first-world/third-world, boomer/millennial, vegetarian/vegan/carnivore, android/ iPhone, traditional/contemporary, Ford/Chevy, baptist/methodist/presbyterian/lutheran/pentecostal/anglican/roman catholic/non-denominational, liturgical/charismatic...that's all I could come up with.
We want our shoes to have labels and our phones to have labels. And we label people. But, people are just people. People are made in God's image. That means that God looks like everyone of us. There are not some that are valued more because they're wealthy, athletic, brilliant or beautiful. God looks like movie stars. God looks like migrant workers. God looks like those standing in line at the welfare office. God looks like Olympic swimmers. All are image-bearers. God has dreadlocks and a shaved head. God wears a $2,000 Italian suit and a Nike T-shirt, God plays video games and baseball, God drives a BMW and rides the public transportation system.
The Church ought to be the best at what Mandela hoped for and the Bible demands. We are the ones who believe that people are made in God's image. Labels mean nothing to Christians because labels won't last. They are not eternal. The deepest part of our theology is that labels don't matter. The inside matters. Hearts matter. Souls matter. Spirit matters. If there is a gift that Christians could give to the world, it is the feeling that their we can see through their labels. The rich and famous wonder if anyone sees them for who they really are. The poor wonder if anyone sees their potential. The middle class wonder if anybody notices them. I want you to know something: there is One who sees who you really are, sees your potential, and notices you every day. You are not your label. You are not a skin color, a logo, a job title, or any kind of adjective. You are a person who looks just like God. This has been a dream of our Heavenly Father long before freedom fighters took up the mantle. This is the way things are supposed to be. What a gift we could give to the world if those that follow Christ could see God's children as He does.