• Phill Tague

Escaping the Labels

It’s Holy Week, and our focus is fully on Jesus. Even people who don’t usually give him their attention find a place to go to church on Easter Sunday. And this is great. Please take full advantage, and invite as many people as you can!

But it’s also easy for us as Christians to forget that the Savior we serve didn’t really win the popular vote. I have found myself wondering- “If Jesus was here today, would He feel welcome at our church?” Sadly, this is a question we also need to ask in our world today.

I read a story once about an old cowboy who visited a church. Although his clothes were clean, he had on jeans, a denim shirt, old boots and a wide brimmed cap. The church building he entered was the largest and most beautiful he had ever seen. The people were all dressed in the finest clothes. As the cowboy took a seat, no one even acknowledged him. As the cowboy was leaving the church, the pastor approached him and asked him if before the next time he came, he could have a talk with God and ask God what He thought would be appropriate clothes for worship. The cowboy agreed.

The next Sunday, the cowboy returned, dressed the same way. The pastor approached him and said “I thought I asked you to speak to God about what to wear to church!” To which the man replied. “I did. He said He didn’t have a clue- He’s not attended here in a long time.”

Now, I do have a point for sharing that story (other than I just love it so much). Here’s the point: It’s hard to escape the box of early labels.

I think this is what happened to Jesus. When Jesus started his public ministry, his worst critics were people who knew Him as the carpenter’s son. It’s hard to escape the stigma of who you WERE. I don’t know your past, but I guarantee you have one. For some, our past is worse than for others. And for some, we struggle to accept the grace of God because we know the realities of who we WERE. When you carry baggage from the past, that judgment seems to stay with you forever. But it doesn’t have to.

Through Jesus, you can escape the labels.

Jesus knew all about what it was to be rejected, shunned and overlooked. He experienced rejection from the very people He created. People made in God’s image, rejected God when He came as one of them.

My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. (Isaiah 53:2-3 NLT)

Jesus was born on the wrong side of the tracks. He wasn’t born into royalty. He didn’t have the right background. The world didn’t see any reason to notice him, so they didn’t. So when He started his public ministry, he did it with his past hanging over him. If that’s how you feel, you have a Savior who understands.

Don’t let your past be your reason for missing Jesus. Don’t let your shame keep you separated from Jesus. Our sin is what separates us from Jesus, but our shame is what keeps us there. God loves you. That’s what Easter is all about. And He loves you regardless of the labels. It’s time to choose Him back.

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Sioux Falls, SD 57107

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