Traveling with my family last year, we all got to experience Jerusalem for the first time. The trip was eye-opening, wonderful and jarring all at once.
As we walked the paths of Jesus throughout the ancient city, we visited church after church. And not one of them – not one – bore a ‘protestant’ name. Additionally, very little English was being spoken. For this southern, protestant white guy, that was a bit humbling. And then it hit me.
Jesus doesn’t belong to me.
Without realizing it, I had spent a life thinking Jesus was ‘mine’, feeling he was from ‘my congregation.’ In a city full of Catholic, Armenian, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, I came to realize the relationship is the other way around.
We belong to Jesus. All of us.
Thirteen months later, I had another moment of clarity. This time, it was at the hands of beer commercial from South Africa. (Before you go any further, I’m not supporting a beer company, simply calling attention to an important message they are passing along.)
Castle is correct in their assertion that we all put labels on one another based on a single glance and our often-unexamined prejudices. In today’s day and age, this is dangerous and sadly ubiquitous way of approaching interaction with others.
Labels damage our ability to get to know, care for, and root for others in all cases. Except for one.
Child of God
Lots of us have the tendency to think a child of God looks something like this:
We see a bearded pastor in plaid, the penitent one, the friendly soup kitchen worker. That’s what a child of God looks like, right? Someone a bit like us.
However, when you read what Jesus says in Mark 12:30-31 (and lots of other places in the Bible), you have to realize that a child of God, someone in whom He is well pleased, also looks like
Whether they believe it or not. Whether they worship Him or not. Whether your parents or teachers or coaches or mentors think they are or not…. If you are a Christian, this is a true statement: all are children of God.
This realization keeps you humble. You begin to remember that, because of your belief, you are a part of something much larger (and much older) than yourself.
Not only will this realization change how you operate, it’ll also help make the world, little by little, a better place.
(If you’d like a fun read that brings this idea home much better than my poor story-telling, pick up Bob Goff’s new book, Everybody Always. It’s a joy to read and well worth your time.)
Young man, you are going to continue to label people. When you do, start with this one: ‘Child of God.’ It’ll set you walking on the right path with the child of God in front of you.