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Do Labels Matter?

Posted on February 18, 2020

It’s very sad to see a church take the name “Baptist” off its church sign. We’re often told that labels don’t really matter. If that were true, then why bother to remove the seven letter word? Most recently, Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders, who is clearly a socialist, has told people that he is a “democratic socialist.” What in the world does that mean? Do all of these labels really matter? Do they make any difference? With a little reasoning, I think we can come to a solid conclusion. 


For those who avow that labels don’t matter, do you go to the store and just buy any product without looking at the label? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want just any kind of bread, I want “Dave’s Killer Bread” Good Seed bread. I don’t want just any kind of peanut butter, I want extra crunchy peanut butter. I certainly want to avoid labels such as “Sugar Free” or “Diet.” You see, labels matter! 


It’s no different with the labels that describe you. For me, I’m a conservative, Independent Baptist Christian. These labels are very important. Why? Because they tell you exactly how I think and believe. If you tell me that you’re liberal, I know what you generally believe. If you tell me that you’re a Catholic or Mormon, I have a good idea of what you believe. Without labels, you would have to explain everything to me, and that could take awhile. Labels allow us to quickly discern who we are and what we believe. 


In the 1500s, a group of Protestants started criticizing the Church of England for their unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism. Eventually this group became known as Separatists because they wanted to separate from the Church of England. That’s exactly what they did. In 1608, a group of Separatists decided to move to Holland to escape persecution. Here they became known as the Pilgrims, and they wanted to find a more remote location. In 1620, a group of Pilgrims set out to establish a colony in the New World. These people would become the very first Americans. 


Going back even further, there was the Early Church. There wasn’t really a label for Jesus followers for some time; this new religion was often called The Way. But that quickly changed. Acts 11:26 tells us, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Apparently this was a label given to them by non-believers. The word “Christian” means “little Christ.” This is perhaps the most important label in all the world as it identifies you with Christ Himself. This is a label you should be proud to wear. Let the world know that you love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ!


I hope you see that labels DO matter; they always have throughout history. It matters what kind of church you go to. For those in college, it matters if your professor is conservative or liberal, atheist or Christian. And as we approach a Presidential election this year, the labels of the candidates matter. Socialist, Democrat, Republican, Gay, Liberal, Conservative—these labels allow you to see what these candidates believe and stand for. 


What about you? What labels would you use to describe yourself? I’m sure that there would be several. Don’t ever be afraid to tell someone, “I’m a Christina,” or “I’m a conservative,” or whatever label it might be. We don’t need to get rid of labels, we need to use them. 

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