by Judi Chow
Americans tends to be adventurous, creative, and fun. I was with a group of American pastors and missionaries not long ago. The topic of praying for the nations came up. Someone in the group suggested looking at the labels in our clothes and praying for that country. Immediately, everyone around the dining table reached over to the next person, grabbed them by the collar and checked for the label. A label identifies a country, but a person can also be labeled just as I did at the very beginning with Americans.
One of my favorite author Max Lucado, in his book, A Gentle Thunder: Hearing God through the Storm also talked about labeling. He explained why we label,“It’s easier to talk about a person than to help a person. It’s easier to debate homosexuality than to be a friend to a gay person. It’s easier to discuss divorce than to help the divorced. It’s easier to argue abortion than to support an orphanage. It’s easier to complain about the welfare system than to help the poor. It’s easier to label than to love.” (p158)
Missionaries have been labeled as the “poor missionary.” That’s why people have sent used tea bags and old clothes to missionaries. (Translation: Oh, they cannot afford anything new.)
Missionaries are self-sacrificial. (Translation: They are on call 24-7.)
Missionaries are studious. (Translation: They are old-fashioned.)
Missionaries are spiritual. (Translation: They have a direct line to God.)
Labels can be good or bad; either way it puts people in a box where we judge them by their outward appearance through our filters. Jesus has set an example for us when He looked beyond the surface of Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, Mary, Martha, Peter, Thomas, you, and me! Yes, it is easier to label than to love, but Christ calls us to love before labeling.