I have been eating a lot healthier as of late and you will find me in the grocery store aisle, trying to read the small print of labels to determine what is really in this stuff, that has caught my attention and promised some dietary goodness. However, when it comes to labels we place on people, it is for a completely different reason, a reason that may even be hidden from us.
I was recently reading a post and it resonated with a theme that I have been turning over in my heart and mind for about a week now. This post I am typing now, is my attempt to put it down in print. <—Click on this highlighted portion to go to the link of the post i am referring to. It is titled “A pastor’s apology to the #LGBTQ community”
When we label somebody, we attempt to define them. However, usually this is the farthest thing from what we have actually done. We have only named them something, that excuses us from really getting to know them any deeper or we have simply justified our judgement of them. A label makes a person a “Them” or a “That” and removes the dignity of their humanness created in the image of God. We are all guilty of it on both sides of any issue. I have been guilty of labeling someone a “Conservative” a “Republican” or “One of those kinds of Christians” without really taking the time to get to know them or their journey. Labels and Stereotypes have more to do with what we think than what or who somebody really is.
When did we come to a place where we can’t still respect and disagree?
We may be “For” or “Against an issue but an issue is not isolated cold object. It impacts and involves real people. People with feelings, difficulties and dignity that are due our respect. A person is defined by their experiences and journey, not by our labels, judgements or self-righteous and yet limited understandings of who they really are as a person. The Church ( I use the term with the intent of what Christ meant for his body to be.) should be about people, relationships, and not merely issues. We can have our opinions but they should never hinder our love walk or relationships.
You may think one thing about an issue, like “Abortion” but what are you doing about the mother, who is in a desperate situation that would even cause her to have to consider this as an option. She doesn’t need your judgement, she needs your love and support. She needs us to be Christ to her. My opinion is not going to change her reality, but my Love might.
You may feel strongly one way or another about gay marriage, but your opinion and negativity is not helping anybody. However real relationships may transform us all in to better people. It will definitely go further than what has been happening.
Our labels and judgments not only do not help those we are called to Love, but they also blind us to our own error and shortsightedness . We miss the real opportunities of relationships and coming to understand the fulness of who God is. Every human being is a child of God. God created us very unique and we all have a unique journey. We all have unique strengths and weaknesses and flaws. Yes none of us are perfect. If we separate ourselves or alienate ourselves from a person or “Group” (enter your pet label here) we are missing an opportunity to understand and know God and ourselves better.
We all have more in common than different. Maybe this is the very truth we like to hide behind labels, because if “They” are just like us, then maybe they are really ok.
I few years ago, a preacher began a sermon with, ” I am not ok, you are not ok, but that is ok, OK”? None of us are perfect, none of us own a monopoly on God or truth. But we definitely have more when we unite in Love than when we hide or alienate one another.
I have many labels, some society have put on me and some I have put on myself. (Christian, gay or “Gay Christian” Male, White, tall, fat, ….) but there is only one that counts for anything- Child of God! I am part of God’s beloved and so are you!
May we grow in understanding of each other and God!
Peace and Love