Ok so labels are good right? Yeah of course they are, they tell us what that thing growing mould in the fridge is, they tell you whose undies you’re wearing or whose pencil that is. They help you find the right book in the library. They’re helpful…
They’re helpful in some ways but in other ways they are toxic. Labels used to put people in boxes, more specifically to put brothers and sisters in Christ in boxes are causing our groom a lot of hurt. I use a whole lot of labels for people, I use them to tell me and others who I can listen to and respect and who I shouldn’t listen to and respect. Labels allow me to draw battle lines, to easily say whose in and whose out.
But there is a problem, and God has been convicting me of late about it. There is no in or out in the Church, all are in. There is no us and them in the Church, we all are us (pardon the poor grammar there). Labels in the Church divide, hurt, and weaken the Church.
Four passages have been whirring around in my head this last week challenging me on this issue. Have a read, they’re pretty self explanatory I think.
Firstly from Mark 3:25
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Secondly Ephesians 2:14–16
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
Thirdly 2 Corinthians 5:17–19
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Lastly from Ephesians 4:29–5:2
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved childrenand walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Sorry let me add a fifth passage, Ephesians 4:2–6
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
So with these verses in mind, and the Spirit’s convicting I have decided to begin using a label Jar, It’s going to work the same as a swear jar. Every time I use a label (see list below) I am going to put in 1000 kwacha (it’s about $2).
So here is the start of my list of naughty words: Right, Left, Calvinist, Reformed, Conservative, Progressive, Egalitarian, Complementarian, Evangelical, Baptist.
I’m sure to add to this list.
Now, if you’re like me with the using of labels I encourage you to begin a label Jar and to try converse with your brothers and sisters without using labels that divide breakdown. Let’s build up and encourage.