Ellen’s closet is packed. Mine…not so much, especially during the winter months. I have four flannel shirts that I rotate through each week. Ellen threatens me that she is going to burn them. I threaten her that I will leave her if she does. Of course I’m joking. I’m not sure she is. A man shouldn’t have to put a lock on his closet door. Anyways…
Shirts remind me of the labels we put on people. Everybody has favorite shirts, or pants, or shoes, and everybody, or so it seems to me, has their favorite labels that they like to put on others.
In the church world we have shirts we like to put on people. We’ve got Evangelicals vs. Liberals, Charismatic vs. non-Charismatic, Egalitarian vs. Complimentarian, Gay welcoming and affirming vs. Gay welcoming but not affirming, Calvinist vs. Arminian, Traditionalist vs. Progressive, pro-Flannel shirts vs. anti-Flannel shirts. This is just a partial list of the many labels we like to put on people. As I see it there are three problems with labels.
With labels as with clothing, seldom does one size fit all. For example, many Evangelicals believe some things Progressives believe and vise versa. I know some Southern Baptists that are more Charismatic than some Charismatics.
It is hard to label a person without there being contempt attached. Just listen to the next person you hear put a label on someone. They might not use these exact words but you can still hear “Those stupid…” tacked on to the beginning of their sentence, or, “…and I’m better than they are.” added to the end of their sentence.
Finally, when I label a person I fail to see the person as a person and instead see them as a label. Labels limit. Labels limit my ability to love the person as God loves them and limits by ability to see the person as God sees them. The person I label, the person I have contempt for, is dearly beloved by our mutual Father in heaven. They might be wrong but first they are a child of God and loved just as much by God as God loves me.
When I was a kid I remember an advertisement at the back of a comic book for a pair of glasses that would enable you to have x-ray vision. They led you to believe that with them you could see under peoples clothes. Hot Dog! I ordered one. It didn’t work.
I want to see under the clothes, under the labels that I try to put on people. I want to see people naked.