Monday, November 26, 2007

The Label Machine

Moronic labels are not something that are reserved just for bottles and cans, just clap your hands...just clap your hands. Labels are something that are all too prominent in the places we live, work, go to school, your race, age, gender, everywhere you go, there are labels. Most people use labels to categorize things to make them easier to recognize or find. We label things with a skull and crossbones or a circle thingy... to tell us that something is harmful to us. We label things rated G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, and X to tell us what we are to expect from a movie. We label things reject or irregular if they don’t pass all of the guidelines you need to have quality, than it goes to TJ Max or Value City at a lower price, remember that. We label things flammable, if they are substances that are likely to go up in flames if exposed to fire. The point is, everywhere you go, you find labels that identify who it is, who made it, what is it worth, what will it do. And all of these things are good, but something really bad has happened do to our love affair with needing to label things. People started getting labeled.
I never understood this obsession, why can’t something just be something unique, all it’s own, maybe even a grandma knitted quilt of different characteristics of different things. But instead most are given a label and all of the things negative and positive that come with the label, not the person are assumed to be true. My aunt and everyone has an aunt that was exposed to this side of the year 1900 that has discovered the hand held label maker. She saw one, peed her pants at the sight of something so handy, and handy is the word they all use. They buy it, then they proceed to use a hundred rolls of label tape labeling every redundant thing in the house. She labeled the beans...beans. She labeled the toilet paper...toilet paper. She even labeled the guessed it, soap. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but this woman was nuts with this thing. Everything needed to be labeled in case she forgot what a can of beans looked like. She was obsessed. And so are so many people who feel the need to lump everyone into their own neat little sections of life. Maybe it makes us easier to figure out for those that do not want to take the time to get to know who a person really is, but I suspect that everyone here is guilty of doing it in one way or another, and I am also certain that we have all been labeled ourselves as something we are not. The good news is that Jesus knows that pain all to well. Jesus was notoriously labeled as a bunch of different things. Today He has been labeled a Savior, which He is, a maniac, a lunatic, a lier, someone who never excited, he was actually accused of lying about His own existence. He was labeled a pansy, hobo, drunkard, heathen, blasphemer, and so, so many more. Jesus understands what is feels like to be condemned by your peers as something you are not. They call you a nerd, a homo, any various racial slurrs, stupid, lazy, emo, goth, jock, band geek, loser, burnout, fundamentalist, Jesus freak whatever they feel you are at the moment, but so very few of them make an attempt to get to know you. It is easier to think they have you figured out, it may make them feel better, but it hurts you, and it hurts others and it hurt Jesus, but never did it ever stop Him from being and doing what He really was.
Listen to what people were saying when they heard that the Messiah was here. ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son?’ ‘Is not this the one born in a manger?’ and my favorite is from John 1:46
John 1:46   “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.  “Come and see,” said Philip.
They are doubting the appearance of the Messiah that they all were waiting for because He was born in a particular city. Are you kidding? They were not. For they, such a king must come from a great Jewish city, like Jerusalem, not the butt of Israel, Nazareth. Nothing good comes out of there. Not from a Carpenter, maybe a King or soldier, or a warrior, but a carpenter? He was born in a manger in straw for goodness sake. Not a golden crib, this cannot be a King sent from heaven itself. Jesus got this His entire life and ministry because he chose the foolish things to shame the wise. The Jewish leaders thought they had it all figured out abut this Messiah, they were so smart, so wise, then here comes Jesus going everything purposely backwards. He is born in a stable, from a dump of a city, from an impoverished mother. He comes into Jerusalem riding on a mule, which was the symbol of stupidity, He gets down on his hands and knees and washed the disciples filthy feet, he goes to the drunks and greedy, and sinful and hangs out with them teaching them love, not warfare. Jesus chose to do the opposite of what every label that was put on him before birth had. Jesus was a renegade. And for that, the ignorant just could not and would not believe. I guess they are waiting for a Messiah who is not quite as human as the Jesus of Nazareth. So they will wait and wait and wait. Same thing today, many people still waiting for that sign that something out there cares for them, and is willing to save them, but so many have gotten sick of waiting because the world is so evil that they have given up waiting or hope or belief. When here is Jesus, once again doing the opposite of what we think. We think revenge against those that deny us, Jesus thinks forgiveness, Jesus says He is love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness. Jesus says He doesn’t care at all who you are, what you came from, where you came form, what you have done, who you have hurt. Jesus knows you, the real you, all of you, not just the parts he wants to see. Jesus does the opposite of us, we label, and Jesus searches us. You may have been hurt by others and you may get hurt everyday by others, but what we have when we look up is Christ looking at us, and loving us, offering us a way out of the pain. He offers healing and fulfillment, happiness, and joy. Jesus offers us a better way to live. That is why He came and died for us and rose up again. He did it so we can know Him personally with no labels, just you and God.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. Thank you for writing it. I can't excuse myself from placing labels on people. It happened to me this past week. I was pretty sure what label I was wearing...and someone told me otherwise. It hurt a lot..I'm still getting over it. What can you do when someone gives a label that is so untrue? Nothing I guess...just move on? I'm taking a closer look at myself now..when I catch myself doing it to others. I guess it's all i can do.