Michael Shellenberger was a “Hero of the Environment” according to Time magazine in 2008. But he soon became disillusioned with the activism that earned him that label. In 2020, he published a book, Apocalypse Never,explaining his new take on environmental issues. To explain his transformation he said, “I’m a liberal in my compassion for the vulnerable. I’m a libertarian in my love of freedom. And I’m a conservative in that I believe you need civilization to protect both of those.”

It’s the issue of labels that interests me here. The prevailing zeitgeist demands labels. Shellenberger said, “The big issue for me is who am I? Everybody wants to know where you sit on left-right spectrum. I really hate the left-right spectrum. It’s wrong on a lot of issues.” Apparently, that’s why Schellenberger felt compelled to use other labels to identify himself.

Shellenberger’s intuition was right – a label reflects your identity. The danger with labels is shifting definitions. The 2022 film “What is a Woman?” illustrates that new hazard. There’s also the danger of accepting real or perceived baggage that comes along with a label. Think about the baggage of political labels.

Labels matter, and we all wear them. Some we choose and some are assigned to us. I’m a WASP (white Anglo-Saxon protestant), which is a pejorative in some quarters I suppose. I hear we’re to list our pronoun labels in email signatures now. The more traditional labels are related to your job (“I’m a teacher”) or family role. If you hear someone stand up and announce, “I’m a Mom!” in a school board meeting, brace yourself.

So, who are you, really? What label would you adopt that supersedes and qualifies all others? Is there a label that expresses your most profound identity, which you are unafraid to adopt even if it disagrees with the cultural zeitgeist?

We believers have such a label. It’s a Person’s name. Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given me” (John 17:11). Jesus and His many names define our identity and reality. The early church labeled themselves “The Way,” which recalls how Jesus labeled himself. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). His name is attractive because, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).

Shellenberger changed his label to “Christian” while writing his book. Would you change your label to express your most profound identity? “Who am I?” is one of the most profound questions a human can ponder. So, what is your label?