Labels.  We come to count on them.  We pick up a can at the grocery store and hope when it says “diced tomatoes”, that it is truly that substance inside.  It’s helpful… if you’ve TASTED diced tomatoes before.  What is a label other than someone else’s experience all neatly packaged up in words? If you’d tasted these diced tomatoes, you may describe them with all of the variety of your experience, which is so much more than a label, right? So labels are sometimes useful in practical ways, but they are also limiting, they are not the experience. I listened to a speaker (who I will let remain anonymous) who challenged my thinking about the labels we place upon people; the ego mind is (without help) constantly identifying, categorizing immediately…as if these labels can completely embody who the person is that we are interacting with. Admit it, we label. yuk. We all do to some degree. I have come to identify this as a loss. It’s hard not to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the human frame enough to know we feel safer and more knowledgeable when we categorize people.  It’s the path of least resistance. It’s easy, simple, second-nature, but most of all, flawed. It’s darkness at it’s most rudimentary level because it empowers that seed of pride-even adorns it with a coat of self-righteousness. Without challenge, we WILL succumb to this pattern. But in exercising discipline of our psyche (which I think the Spirit of God does in us), long enough to turn off the brain-label mechanism that is fiercely trying to emerge at every encounter, I think then we will find ourselves loving people; loving who they really are;  valuing the beautiful traits they embody.  This is what Jesus was about. He loved people to himself; loved them to truth. I contend that we will actually connect with people on a level that is much deeper than any label would ever offer.  Labels are our way of deciding if we have something in common. It’s quite an ego-centric way to live. I’m challenged to stop thinking of myself in labels others assign. Labels aren’t who we are. They may describe something about us, but aren’t us. So what if you’re “American” “white” “black” “rich” “poor” “educated” “republican” “democrat” etc… that’s not WHO you are. Is it? A life surrendered to God, the giver of light, will result in a life of peace and love; a wholeness in your heart-the part of you that IS really you. There’s so much freedom in that. No need to determine anything about anyone. Just live love. We have much in common with EVERYONE on the planet; everyone without the labels.