When we went down to New Jersey for my daughter's 50th birthday, Ellen insisted that I buy a jacket.....the last one I owned (purchased almost 30 years ago) :) finally made its way to "Second Chance" a couple years back and was not replaced. Just so you know....I do actually own a suit.....one suit....which no longer fits since I lost all this weight recently....:)
We went to one of those outlets where they have all the designer brands at half the price. After they picked me up off the floor (having looked at the price of jackets again after 30 years), I found one we both liked, which should now last me for the next 30 years if I make it till I'm 102!
I noticed a label sewn in the jacket.....Calvin Klein.....I understand that is a good label. We had driven past the Gap with all their labels on everything, the Levis store....you know....all clothing seems to be identified by some label. You don't just buy pants or a jacket or a suit anymore....somehow the names on labels have taken on a life of their own.
How about Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian.......or the labels within the labels....how many different labels of Baptists do we have......what do you think happened when some of the Methodists wanted to be known as Free Methodists?....what did that make the other varieties? There are thousands of denominations now. Hundreds of varieties of Pentecostals and Charismatics and Independents.....can't just be a suit any more...er uh...I guess I meant - can't just be a Christian anymore. :)
When people were first getting born again a couple thousand years ago....they had no labels.....they just had radically changed lives and lived so differently from the rest of the world that the world labeled them as "The People of the Way".....just a little side note that in the 70's of course there was a group that called themselves The Way......amazing how each time God restored some truth to His church over the years, it became a label of its own, taking on its own life and it always was the new truth, the real truth, the whole truth and ultimately the only truth.....all the rest of you guys are wrong, you've missed it. Not at all surprising that this group that labeled themselves the Way, were actually saying The Way.
I want to jump in very quickly to say that my version of the perfect church was labeled the Christian Fellowship.....please note.....not just A Christian Fellowship, or Christian Fellowship but corporately, 501c, letterheads, promotions, on tee shirts, any contracts, we were The Christian Fellowship. Satan never has an original thought....he does the same old-same old, over and over and over again. Gets us thinking how we have got the real deal, we're better than anyone else and do it better than anyone else....and....you know what?.....the Lord just pulls out of the whole thing and leaves us all on our own..... doing our little better than anyone else routine all by ourselves now.....but..... He never quits trying to have Himself a people who just want to have a relationship with Him. That's a good thing!
There is another label that started out something really awesome. It came about eventually, as folks watched how these people who had been born again by the Holy Spirit, living by His power, having Jesus living His life in them....as they watched how they lived, began to call them little Christs (that what Christ-ians means....little Christs)
Back then, born again people looked like Jesus, lived like Jesus, acted like Jesus. Today, all kinds of people use the label Christian that don't remind me of Him at all. Think about that one.....and maybe how that needs to change. Maybe even, how I need to change.
Tomorrow, I hope to talk about another word that started out really awesome but has also lost its meaning over the years. We'll talk about that word a little. The word is church!