Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” Acts 10:34-36 (MSG)
When I was a kid I thought that simply by virtue of living in the United States, I was automatically Christian. Of course, it took some growing up before I realized it wasn’t true. Back then and now, the freedom of choice, the chance to walk through the open door of faith as I defined it is what I had. That was a good thing. These days I feel like we’ve forgotten our heritage and the blessing we have in being able to label ourselves by whatever faith we choose. I still love those open doors!
We live in a culture though that loves to put labels on everything. We label kids according to their intelligence, or their talents or their patterns of behavior. We label adults as self-employed, corporate leaders, or homeless, and then we keep on labeling as though we alone knew the truth. We label by what people do, rather than by the possibility of all they could be or all that God designed them to be. We label our foods and we label our clothes and we label our churches and well, we hardly miss putting a label on anything.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we took off the labels. Would anyone really know whether the suit you wore was an Armani or Calvin Kline, or a Target? Would it matter whether it came from Neiman-Marcus or Wal*Mart?
Perhaps taking away the labels would help us remember the open door, the love that is meant to shine through each one of us. We’ve barely tapped into what we really are, what we can be, and what God desires us to be. Peter’s description of those who are acceptable to God reminds me that sometimes we get a little too caught up in our own version of designer labels. God-fearing people are everywhere…all over the world. God has labeled those people as His. Thank God for His grace and love and mercy! Where would any of us be without Him? Label me excited that the door is still open. I’m glad to stand on Peter’s principle!