This summer I had the wonderful experience of being a summer camp counselor. But unlike a typical summer camp, I worked at church camp. I have to say the experience was not only incredibly physically exhausting, but spiritually as well. However I feel like I've learned more in the past month and a half than ever in my life. The theme of this year camp was #HASHTAG. And I will be the first to admit I thought this was the stupidest thing. It seemed like they were trying too hard to find something the kids would relate to. I was incredibly surprised however by the amazing response to this theme, and the way I saw God change lives through it.
So what is a hashtag? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, "a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text." Basically, a hashtag is a label. And that's what we were trying to communicate to our kids this summer. Just like a hashtag categorizes a tweet, or a post on Instagram, labels often categorize us. We have so many "hashtags" on us, and sometimes we don't even realize them. The first thing we talked to the kids about were the bad hashtags they have on them. I heard some simple ones like #alone, or #ugly. But them some reached a whole deeper level, like #addict, #abused.
The minute we asked these kids to think about those hashtags their faces fell. Why? Because these labels come with power. They have the power to change the way you feel, and even the way you act. I know personally the labels on my life have made me make decisions I wouldn't have otherwise. Like choosing to skip meals because my mom made a comment on my weight, or stopping hanging out with my friends for fear they might see me as annoying. The thing is, after talking to so many kids this summer, I realized these labels have caused kids to do even worse things... And it broke my heart.
The reality is that these labels shouldn't be able to affect us like they do. And to understand this we need to look as who has the right to label us. When we look at things like dolls, or beanie babies, they often come with a name. This is because the creator decided to give it that name. But then when you buy the toy, you have the power to change that name. So the creator and the buyer have the power to label the toy. This goes for us as humans too! God created us, and Jesus bought us with his blood. Only they have the power to tell us what we are, not other people no matter who they may be.
It goes so much deeper than just realizing who can label us though. We need to understand what those labels are.
2 Corinthians 3:17 "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
We are free from any chains the world might have put on us! Through Christ they are not there.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Literally nothing on this earth can separate us from His love.
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”"
It doesn't matter who we are. God accepts us no matter what we have done, no matter what we will do in the future. We are His children and nothing can change that.
1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
All we need to do to be forgiven is to ask for it. Simple as that. And when we ask for it He forgives us no matter what we have done.
There are countless hashtags we are given in Christ. And there are countless passages in the Bible that will tell us who we are through Christ. These labels are the true ones, the ones that count. So no matter what the world may say about you, you can find the truth of who you are through only Christ.