Labels are important, they give us information, they identify things especially in cooking or the kitchen. We wear labels to identify ourselves as such and such a person. We wear clothing labels to say a number of things from look at the money i have, to I'm sporty, our football shirt identifies us with other like minded people and gives us a sense of belonging. Labels it would seem are important, they help us, sometimes they hinder us, but we all wear a label of some description whether its a real one or a metaphorical one.
But there is a downside to labels, they can create an us and them mentality or worse still a have and have not mentality, they can especially in the young and teenagers help create bullying so its not all good, so do we need labels?
In cooking we do, you don't want to put half a jar of Paprika on your roast chicken, you don't want to use sugar if you don't like it. So labels have a point they inform us and help us. We wear them as a badge of honor and some of us wear them with pride, I'm a Leeds fan and am happy to nail my label as such to the mast. Also I'm a biker so i wear the uniform or label of that as well. My faith is my biggest label as its the biggest part of my life.
This is where it gets sticky, you see i genuinely think and believe Jesus was not and is not interested in the label we wear, he was all for equality, he was all for understanding and never sent someone away because they never wore the right label. He engaged with those outside and inside the circle of faith, treating all equally and not giving a snide remark towards those of a different class or social construct. It saddens me that many Christians will deride other Christians for not wearing the correct label, whether that is their church, their particular brand of theology or because they have differing opinions. Debate is great and needs to happen, but when it gets personal thats really not on. Over the last few weeks i have been told my theology on such and such is wrong, that my opinion is not as valid as someone else's as apparently i don't take the Bible seriously, not because of heresy, but because i think differently, my labels often get me into trouble. It has to stop, we serve a God of Love and as such need to temper everything we say with that love, we are not better than anyone else because they think differently, respect needs to be shown. Those labels are just that they are labels, they help but can hinder and cause division. Society wants to label everybody in someway, the Church should be acting differently and not labelling, one of the labels that really gets my goat is "Fundie" short for fundamentalist, its used as an insult 9 times out of 10. So what if i do have some fundamental traits does that give anyone the right to put in a slight dig and insult? One of my great friends is Tom Osbourne he is a minister (or will be soon) we are as different as chalk and cheese. He is very liturgical and likes his worship that way, I'm very add hoc in how i do things during worship. But Tom and i get on really well, he has seen my band a few times and i enjoy our chats, at no time have we hung those labels on each other or used them, we just accept each other and get on with Gods business.
Labels can be good they can be bad, i guess what I'm asking for is a bit of understanding, a bit of thought before we label people, especially without knowing all the facts, but we jump because we don't like the label someone wears. Thats maybe a big ask for some people, because their Labelism/Tribalism is very much ingrained, lets just try and be a bit more considerate about labelling people before we know all the facts and just have a quick soundbite to go on.
THANKS TO THOSE WHO ANSWERED THE QUESTION I POSED YESTERDAY ON UK METHODIST, YOUR IMPUT WAS REALLY HELPFUL.