Thursday, June 09, 2005

How Do You Get These Things Off?

It's pet-peeve time, boys and girls. Today's pet peeve is "labels." I hate that as soon as someone thinks he gets a whiff of you, he sloppily licks the back of a gaudy sticker and slaps it on your forehead. I hate it because at that point, the chances of connecting at a level any deeper than your tag are close to nil. People see the label and they think, "Oh, you're one of those people."

For the most part, I hate being labeled. Don't you? I want to be seen for who I am - uniquely created by God for relationship with him - because that's reality. Look, I am not you. I believe differently than you do about some things. "I'm more!" I want to shout, or, "I'm less!" And yet, here I am cramped in this box.

We even have the audacity to try to brand the Almighty: Is the immortal, invisible, only wise God a Republican? An American? A Baptist? A Protestant?

I've met some people whose views of church are slightly unorthodox. The Emerging Church, the Post-Modern Church, the Missional Church - I believe those are some of their labels, if you need to know. On their tag they've got this smaller print that says, more or less, "Trying to be meaningful to a society that has lost its meaning." I think they truly just want to be Jesus to a world that needs Jesus. Do I agree with every one of them? Probably not, but they're trying to live like Christ. And someone's got to.


jaymarie said...

i am thinking about CSLewis and some of the issues you have had with him. (i understand that he is still one of your favorite writers, true?)

do you get it? i'll explain if you are curious. (not trying to be a pain, but i don't want to step on toes - i have been given a "troublemaker" lable more than once in my life ;-)

i don't like lables much either, but am increasingly annoyed to find myself dishing them out. yucky.

thanks for the post. such a good point - reminder.

Scott said...

Yeah, I think I get it. (If it's apparent that I don't from the following comments, let me know.)

I see the similarities between the two. In fact I was thinking about the similarities the other night. But still, Lewis is one of my favorite writers. Do I believe that Lewis is not a believer because of these doctrinal differences? No. Would I worship with him and count him as a dear brother? Yes.

I'm opening the doors. We have got to start being one body - isn't that what Christ prayed for before he died? We've been pushing people away because of carpet colors or methods of baptism. And I think that's insanity.

I hope I'm tracking with you. I'd love to hear your heart on it. Don't worry about not knowing me well and being afraid to offend. I'm pretty gracious. (I hear you're quite a cusser, though, so go easy on me.) : )

jaymarie said...

(you got it!)

I feel like we loose opportunites to learn and grow through others when we try to define them too sharply. For instance, I would never lead someone to a Catholic understanding of faith, but I (even with serious doctrinal misgivings) have come to a deeper place with Christ and my fellow christians (and they do so often go together) because of the insight and devotion of my Catholic friends. This is sounding kind of shallow compared to the envolved relationships and experiences I have been blessed to be a part of.

Now I can't seem to find your references to Lewis, but I remember thinking when I read them that I understood your frustration on one hand , yet on the other hand it didn't matter - can you learn from him? does he touch your heart? does he make you question yourself? perfect. Iron sharpens iron.

I am so happy to read your writing, and I know that it is what it is partially (even if only a small part) because of the influences which you disagree with forcing you to be articulate, to write with lucidity.
So they are, in essence, a gift.


alison said...

All my life I have fought to be understood. I am getting to the point where I am willing to be misunderstood. There is a tension there, but I am finding a blessing as I stand in it.

I finally get that God sees me, knows my heart, UNDERSTANDS that I am earnestly seeking Him. He understands.

I am willing to be labelled as I concentrate on peeling off the labels I instantaneously slap on others.

It keeps me busy.

Thanks for bringing it up.

Scott said...

Jaymarie, I agree. I hope my post didn't come across as condemning those who view themselves under the umbrella of "emergent" - I was trying to defend them because of the vitriolic attacks I've seen levied against them in the blogosphere. I was trying to say that I don't mind the differences. Lewis and I don't believe the same way, but he has sharpened my faith. And you're right, we find it much easier to slap a label on someone than spend the time to get to know his/her heart and discover, as Alison said, that they are earnestly seeking God. I think viewing our differences as gifts to one another is a beautiful and accurate way of seeing things. Thanks.

Alison, it is difficult not labeling people, isn't it? We all do it, but being aware that we do it, as you are, is the key to growing in our grace toward other people. By the way, I was on a site yesterday that condemned Rob Bell, saying he was part of emerging church and was neither conservative nor biblical.

Funny story about Rob - let me preface by saying I only knew of him at Trinity (through you, which is part of my story) - we saw one of his NOOMA videos at our church and it was very powerful and I discovered he was a pastor in GR. I called Tania about it - she lives in Cedar Springs - and asked if she'd ever heard of him. She told me how he went to Trinity and was my age and how Andrea Bassett (Clark) had dated him and now wouldn't go to his church because of it, which I got a kick out of. But the only memory I have of him still, is being in Physics class and hearing you talking to Dan about something funny Rob Bell had said at church.

jaymarie said...

i think your post was perfect and straightforward... it only happned to bring to my mind the Lewis thoughts.

you have piqued my thoughts on lables, and i am going to have to pontificate about it on my own blog. :-) well done!

(hey, thanks for the linkage *blush*)

alison said...


I totally get what you are saying. I don't really want to venture too far in the blogosphere because there seem to be so many earnest and angry people out there. I am new to this joy thing and baby, I like it! I want to be filled with peace and overflowing with love so that I can take it when I think I am mislabelled and so that I don't waste my life labelling others.

It is a matter of time. We are given so little and I don't want to spend my life focusing on the inadequacies of others.

Have a great weekend.

Scott said...

Hey, Jaymarie. The link is my pleasure. Thanks for your comments.

Scott said...

I agree, Alison: "to expostulate / . . . / Why day is day, night night, and time is time, / Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time" (Ham. 2.2.96,98,99).

Lorna said...

As I read this I thought of those horrid sticky lables, that even when you scrape them off, all the glue is left behind. Grrrrr

Scott said...

And so it goes, huh? Someday we will have faces.