It can be so difficult to be vulnerable before God. Many different things get in the way of that emotional and spiritual intimacy, including broken pasts, confusing presents, and uncertain futures. It also seems that one of the barriers that prevents us from coming to God in absolute surrender to His perfect will is the fear of what others will think when we do.

Let’s face it—people don’t really like being labeled. I sure don’t want to be a “something,” even if there’s nothing inherently wrong in that “something.” I love cats, but I balk at being labeled a “cat person.” And there are far more injurious labels that are ascribed to people for any number of reasons. Christians are no exception. Besides being called Christians, we’re also “Bible-thumpers,” “Jesus-freaks,” “Holly Rollers” and “Religious nuts,” among others. The fear of being labeled a certain way often silences or sends Christians shrinking back, since we don’t want to be perceived poorly, misunderstood, or mislabeled.

When I was in my teens, this same fear shut me up. Concerned with being labeled a weirdo and a Jesus-freak, I’d never talk about Jesus or offer to pray for someone unless I was in my safe circle of believing friends—and even then, I was reluctant to raise hands in worship, to prophesy or pray in front of people, or to join discussions about the Word for fear I’d do it “wrong”.

The older I get, the clearer it becomes that we should be more concerned with whether we’re living up to the titles of “disciple”, “apostle”, “Jesus-follower”, and “child of God” than with what people are calling us. If God calls us loved, chosen, cherished, His own, does it really matter what people call us? No, really—does it? Titles can be hurtful, slander and name-calling leave marks, but they are temporal. Our names in the Book of Life…that’s what’s eternal. The name that will be known only to us and Jesus at the end, that’s what we should be concerned with being called.

Living for God is hard enough without also trying to live up to the understanding and expectations of people. We can’t do both. We can’t serve two masters. If we choose to serve God wholeheartedly in the manner that He requires of us, chances are we’re going to heap up a lot of unsavory titles and labels for ourselves. So did Christians of every century past. And really, so what? If we are doing the will of God, then we are doing good—even if the world wants to slap a derogatory term on us. It’s going to be all right anyway. We have a perfect and wonderful name in the Book of Life and written on the palms of God’s hands.

Always remember that whatever they call you, you are still called His. You are inseparably beloved by the Master of the Ages. The rest of it is fleeting pain in a world that is passing away. And because you are His, you have so much more to look forward to.