Following Bible study, we enjoyed lunch with a 92-year-old resident of the retirement home. He said, "I've heard about you guys. What denomination are you?"
Especially in his generation the label was important. It defined a person. "Are you a tongues-talking Pentecostal or a Bible-thumping Baptist, or are you a Lutheran or Episcopalian who doesn't utter such things? What are you? I need to put you in one of my boxes." That's really what he was asking.
I smiled and gently responded, "We are not in a denomination. We are followers of Jesus Christ, the Savior." The 92-year-old brain, still keenly functioning, stopped to process my answer. Then he nodded, as if he accepted it, and it would be okay if we still had conversation!
I'm glad I don't have a label anymore. I don't judge those who do - we are all on this journey with the Master, and many of us have worn lots of labels as we grew and took new steps. Every step was and is important as we follow our Messiah and the ultimate goal for us all is to become like Him.
There is another step, though, that we all must take. We need to stop measuring our "success" in the journey by what we DO. Sometimes I think believers get trapped by the mentality of the "scouting syndrome." Were you a girl scout or a boy scout? The goal was always to get another badge! I was a Brownie Scout and then I graduated into Girl Scouts, and I can remember striving to have more badges on my sash than anybody else in my troop! We are so trained to climb the ladder of success and prove ourselves.
But Oswald Chambers writes, "If you are rightly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the sublime height where no one ever thinks of noticing YOU; all that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time. It takes God's Spirit in us to make us so absolutely humanly His that we are utterly unnoticeable."
After reading that devotion this morning, I sat with my Lord and we had a very short conversation. I heard Him say to me, "You told the man you are My follower. How do you do that?"
"I love you, Lord," I replied.
"How do you love Me?"
"I keep your commandments."
"How do you keep them?"
"By loving others."
I think He nodded - just as the 92-year-old man nodded - and I become more and more aware of the simplicity and the gentle joy of serving the Master.