Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Labels and Pigeon Holes!

So there was a division among the people because of Him. -- John 7:43

What kind of label do you wear? In a culture such as ours it is possible to wear about anything, whether it is something you have selected or what others prefer to hang on you.

Along with that is the "pigeon hole" thing with labels over each one. This is what I think of in the United Methodist Church where I am an ordained elder with membership in the W. PA Annual Conference. Over the years ministry in the UMC has undergone quite an evolution -- there were some "pigeon holes" for ministers when I began, but now it's like a plague running unchecked. We've got more labels for our pastors and the slots into which they are placed than that proverbial fellow who had a bunch of liver pills! They always make sure that the ordained elder is at the top of the heap and after that you have associate members, lay pastors, part time lay pastors, student pastors, deacons, etc. And I haven't named all the slots on this either!

Then to add to this quagmire, you have labels which are supposed to identify where you are on the theological totem pole! One is liberal, conservative, evangelical, middle-of-the-road, fundamentalist, orthodox, Bible-believer, etc. In politics it gets about as crazy as it is within church circles.

So what kind of label do you attach to yourself? And what do others put on you? This latter one can get pretty far out, depending on the first one you claim to wear. Ever hear the term "homophobic" applied to someone -- usually it connects to the choice of a special label a person has chosen to wear which has stirred up intense feelings from some who wear a label of a much different kind!

Speaking for myself -- I try to avoid any of those aforementioned labels having to do with a theological position, although some may have branded me as bouncing in between evangelical and fundamentalist! But really I chose not to wear either of those -- I prefer "maverick" -- it always evokes a response of some kind -- from raw hatred to a more positive "Amen!" type of thing! I am aware that there are those out there somewhere who want to identify with that term somehow. It's still a matter of choice.

The best Friend I ever had stirred things up in the culture He visited a long time ago -- the people just could not agree in their assessment of Him. Some said that He was a good person -- others said He was of the Devil and in league with him. May it be so with us who claim to identify with the Christian faith -- our exposure to others will result in a similar response, rather than people shrugging their shoulders and saying, "I have no response to make!" about ___________. (You don't want your name in that blank space, do you?)

And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." -- Matthew 24:4-14


An Old Friend in Ohio said...

Great post Clayt! :) Labels and Pidgeon Holes will be the downfall of the UMC one of these days.

blessings, t.

PA Maverick said...

Yea, that and a few other internal problems which ought to be considered -- seems we are inclined to follow the example set by Washington DC -- more and more "stuff" to bog us down more and more to the point where a turtle goes whizzing by us like a race car in the Indianapolis 500!