I am personally finished with labels. They are designed solely to divide, exclude and discriminate, as they are so front-loaded with meaning and value. So what if you are not a “christian”, or an “evangelical” or this or that. The first response from those that are, is that “you are not one of us”, so there is suspicion. division and fear.
What is our first response when we here someone is a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Catholic?
Be honest now.
It is that you are not like me, you are not in my group, I have to change that. I either have to avoid you entirely or convert you, change your mind in some way.
We hate racial prejudice but accept religious prejudice freely and loosely all the time. THIS IS WRONG and very dangerous, and it is not the way of our Lord. He never once said to anyone, go and become a christian, change your name. He said “go and sin no more” if I am not mistaken.
Look at how these pious, religious men treated lepers, the unclean, gentiles, Samaritans, and prostitutes in the New Testament. Look at how their labels reared up high walls around these human souls. Repugnant. Insidious. Then look at how the Master so graciously and irreverently tore them all down into heaps at their feet.
Let us here and now vow to stop labeling human beings, and start treating all human beings as children of God, individuals with a redemptive story, a history, value and meaning.
No more of this us and them mentality. No more caste systems! No more untouchables!
We will never learn anything or truly share anything with anyone if we are trying to convert them to our label. Love is impossible with labels, as you will never go deeper than the label and all of its associated bigotry and meaning.
Children do not use labels!
Go the playground and watch and listen.
Watch as little ones approach others they know nothing about.
Are their first words – “What are you?”
Or do they look for things they can share – a toy, an activity, an interest, and then plunge right in?
So over time, their parents begin the process of programming them to discriminate, and for this they need what – LABELS.
Black, white, rich, poor, christian, pagan, american, republican, democrat…
So by the time they reach adulthood, they are no longer looking for things they can share but things that discriminate and divide. They have become as narr0w, isolated and small as their parents.
“Come to me as little children” – said a very wise man.
Labels are a lazy, insidious, sheep-like way of making sense of all of the color and diversity in this world.
All is done.
Once you discover that the man over there is a Muslim, there is nothing else to know. You will never know what is in his heart, never discover that he deeply loves his family and works hard to support and provide for them, never know that the faith he holds is a sincere and deep one. You will never go to his home and share a meal with him.
In short, you will never, ever, ever be like the very one you profess to follow.
Consider how aggressively the various Jewish groups tried to get Joshua to proclaim which groups he was in – pharisee, saducee, herodian, etc. So they could then either shun or exploit Him. This still goes on today. The christian caste system is every bit as active and insidious as anything found in Hinduism.
“One can never safely approach God through theology, only by the Holy Spirit.”
Do you know who wrote that?
What would you say if I told you it was a Buddhist monk from Viet Nam.
“Oh but, but…”
See how this works.
NO MORE LABELS!!!!