What labels did they apply to kids when you were in school? I was a “geek” or a “shrimp” or a “class clown” (I know that one shocks you!) The pretty, preppy girls with ribbons and bows in their hair were the “bow heads”. There were “jocks” and “smokers” and “metal heads”. Today it might be “goth” or “gamer” or “skater”.
I’ve been thinking about these labels in the context of our theme for this school year “We are the Body” based on I Corinthians 12:12-27. Labels have been used by children (and adults) to put down, marginalize, or divide people. You become defined by your label, and the cliques generated by the balkanization of student life create suspicions, isolation, and walls that divide. And of course, adults do the same thing, only the labels have to do with race, class, career, or some other worldly superficial criteria that’s used to divide and separate us. But I Corinthians 12:13 carries a different message: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free…”. Geek? Jock? Poser? The labels and classifications of this world don’t have to mean anything when we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ. Through baptism into Jesus, we are reborn as children of God, alike in sharing in His grace and forgiveness. The things that separate us and make us seem different from each other don’t matter anymore – Christ unites us all and gives us all something in common. Of course, sin and Satan still attempt to break us down, label us, and separate us. We have to fight back with the truth of God’s Word and reach out to each other as fellow members of the body of Christ. We need to treat other like we have only one label: “Child of God”.