Colin Wright in his book, My Exile Lifestyle, writes:
“Titles help us categorize the world.
As humans, we need to understand the world around us but don’t have the time or the brainpower to fully comprehend everything, so we put things into imaginary boxes and slap (sometimes completely fabricated) labels on them.
This makes us feel better, as if we’d managed to solve a mystery that, in reality, we’ve merely categorized.”
As Wright observes, it is easy to label things and it’s convenient to put labels on people. To define them by a choice, a moment or from our personal perspective. It is easy to never do the hard work of humbling ourselves and daring to believe that our perception could be wrong, or the narrative that others or society have perpetuated about the value and character of another needs to be reconsidered.
Jesus refused to categorise people by their past, their choices, or according to our convenient labels. Time and again he would push through barriers whether it be race, social standing, or some other circumstance which would leave someone a social pariah who was maligned or ignored by society at large.
Arguably one of the most poignant examples of this in Scripture is the story of the woman caught in adultery. A crowd had gathered as judge, jury and executioner of this woman. They refused to see a woman who was fallible, a woman who had made a mistake, and a woman who had in her the capacity to live a better life with God at her centre. Jesus did. After exposing the hypocrisy of the crowd, he then offered her forgiveness and the invitation to do better.
Who in your life have you decided that you are going to be the judge, jury and executioner for? Who could you be Jesus to? Is there anyone in your life that you need to stop judging and labelling, and dare to believe that they are more and could be more than you supposed?