We think we “know” someone through labels that we either take unto ourselves or are given to us by others.
We assume a huge number of things about each other because we assume that all “Republicans”, “Democrats”, “liberals”, “conservatives”, “Christians”,”atheists”, “evangelicals”, etc. all think alike, act alike, and follow tribal regulations to the nth degree.
For those who missed the memo, to assume “makes an ass of u and me”.
Worse, it caricatures whole persons made in the image of God.
Human beings are complex and contradictory creatures…they often don’t “make sense” to themselves, let alone other people.
We may know some things about what a person believes or how they act, but we usually have very little idea about why they believe or act the way they do.
The motives of the heart are difficult to discern unless you spend time in the presence of someone…and even then they may be disguised.
Still, we judge strangers…people who we have never met and may never meet… simply on the grounds of who they voted for or where they worship or another singular characteristic.
That judgment is usually completely affirming or completely condemning based on whether we agree with them or not on the one thing being judged.
This, despite the fact that we know nothing of how much they give to a family or community, how hard they work, what they suffer from, or any of the thousands of other variables that make a person who they are.
Engaging in real relationships with real people requires too much worth and is fraught with myriad risks…so we love and hate caricatures that exist in our minds behind the safety of a keyboard.
We are becoming a nation of judgmental narcissists who only desire to see and hear reflections and echoes of ourselves.
We and those who agree with us are the only good and righteous ones and the rest are wicked incompetents ruled by stupid and evil motives.
I know this because I have my own list of labels I loathe.
I know this because I see the sickness in my own soul and have chosen to remain unwell.
I want them to repent…
God, on the other hand…
In this season of the celebration of the Incarnation let us remember that God came in human flesh and dwelled among us…He didn’t sit behind a heavenly keyboard and light us up on Facebook.
He came to touch and be touched.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—”
He came that we might have real relationship with Him and each other, relationships marked by grace and mercy and love despite our differences.
It may require that you get out from behind the computer and touch someone…and be touched by someone.
It may require investing the time to know and be known by people you disagree with on something.
If, like me, you need to repent of creating caricatures of people rather than loving them as your neighbors,now is a good time to do so.
If not, keep in mind you wear your own labels…
Make your own application…