A couple of years ago I had lunch with a man who was sharing with me the journey of how he recently came to plant a church. It was fascinating. And inspiring.

But something struck me as I listened. As I heard about the church, lots of terms were being used about its members. Charismatic yet reformed. New but not emerging. Outreach focused while remaining a teaching based community. Evangelical but not social action minded. So many labels. Lots of words. I didn’t really understand what they really stood for. But at least I knew what they weren’t.

But what were all these terms really about? Do we even know what they mean? Why do we need them? Do they make us feel better?

In the midst of my chicken and cheese baguette with this guy I felt myself longing to come back to what Jesus spoke of. Not in some simplistic way, but in a way that focused me on my calling: to go and make disciples of Jesus.

Not followers of the reformed way. Not disciples of the Charismatic movement. Not a bunch of social action evangelicals.

I mean, Jesus wasn’t a protestant. Or a Catholic. Not emerging. Or evangelical.

Yeah he was called many things, but none of the above.

So why do we waste our time on these labels, just to define where we stand? What’s wrong with just being a Jesus follower? A disciple of Christ? Is that too simple for us?

For too long I’ve tried to place people into categories. Are they a Christian? Are they a non-Christian? Are they going to heaven if the world ends today? Are they headed for hell if Jesus comes back now? And while these are important issues, they are not something that I need to have sussed out. While there is an eternity of 2 choices, Jesus never labelled people one or the other while He was on the earth. And neither should we.

Perhaps we need to be asking different questions. Questions like “regardless of whether they are headed for heaven or hell at this moment in time, how can I love this person more?”

To everyone we encounter, our focus should not be pushing them over this decision line, but instead walking alongside them no matter where they are at on their journey.