What Mandela Taught Me about Labels


Since England took control over South Africa, apartheid had always been a way of life. Whites naturally had more rights, power, and potential then their black counterparts. It was the way it was. The whites were raised to realize their superiority, and the blacks of course resented that. Truly, all men were created equal, but it is usually not realized when one country invades another.

Could you imagine all the oppression and mistreatment that the black locals had to live with? It’s not difficult to imagine the anger and resentment that many had toward the white oppressors. Many sought to solve the problem through violent revolution. But one man changed the path, and cleared the way for freedom.

Nelson Mandela used the tactic of love to disarm his captures, and even though he suffered for many years on Robin Island in prison, when he was released and apartheid was destroyed his first act was to reconcile to build a nation of hope together. In Mandela’s eyes he did not see black or white, only South African.

The Jews in Jesus’ day were severely oppressed by their captors as well, the Romans. The Romans had no respect for their traditions and beliefs, and would overtax, beat down, and murder many. They employed fear to stop uprisings and it worked.

So now imagine what it was like when a Roman commander comes to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant. This soldier had faith that Jesus could do the impossible, and even considered himself unworthy to even have Jesus in his home. He knew that Jesus had the authority to do this.

Luke records, “Jesus was deeply impressed when He heard this. He turned to the crowd that followed Him.

Jesus: Listen, everyone. This outsider, this Roman, has more faith than I have found even among our own Jewish people” (Luke 7:9 The Voice).

Could you imagine how those words sounded to the Jewish people? This guy was the enemy in many ways, even though he clearly was different from the other soldiers and even helped pay for a new synagogue. But still he was the epitome of evil in many Jewish minds.

But that is what I love about Jesus, He does not care about labels. Roman, Jew, Black, White, Gay, Stupid, Fat, Poor, or whatever other label you carry around.

Jesus never cared about labels, and He doesn’t for you either! So what labels are you carrying around?

For me I still carry the label of arrogant and selfish. People always told me that is who I was so that is who I became. But Im not feeling it anymore. Jesus defines me, so all other labels can die

The same goes for you. What labels are you holding on to? Jesus does not care about them. It is true that many labels describe a certain sin that is prevalent in your life, but those do not need to define you!

When Jesus says your sins are forgiven, nothing else matters. When Jesus says your sins are forgiven, you are free! You don’t need to return to those labels, you throw them on the ground, spit on them, step on them in the dirt, and then move forward.

Experience freedom. Experience a second chance at life. Experience Jesus.