Very early most mornings at Starbucks, my elderly gentleman friend Stan, walks over from his home in the neighborhood to buy his morning paper and stops by my “office” to chat. The other day he was telling me about a new t.v. preacher he had discovered who he really likes.
I asked the name of this guy and when Stan told me I gulped and bit my tongue as I continued to listen. I wanted to say “Stan! Don’t you know about this guy?! Don’t you know about what he DID back in the day?!! I would never listen to him!”
And then the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “What if you were judged by all your past sins? What if you weren’t allowed to grow and change?”
I thought, “Jesus is about forever tries and redemption and new life. Am I?”
It made me think about all the people I’ve “written off” with labels like “out-of-control”, “racist”, “addict”, “unhealthy”, “materialistic”, “victim”…
I thought of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and I wondered how Jesus’ grace affected her. Did she change? Did people let her become something other than the label, “adulterer”? Were they able to see the label Jesus gave her: “Beloved”?
Today there’s someone who comes to mind who I’ve given the label, “User”. I haven’t seen him for years, but today I’m praying for him and in my mind as I pray, I’m picturing that label being removed from him, and replaced by one that says “Beloved”.