Labeling People unto God's Glory
Sometimes it is a necessary evil that we label people. Generalizations are never perfect and can always be misunderstood, and yet sometimes we must use them in order to sum up what we mean.
Recently on ABC News there was a piece about people who were upset about Rahm Emanuel, (the White House Chief of Staff) who had said the word, "retarded". (I find it interesting that these people were not also offended by the other words he used in this verbal barrage, but that is another story.) The offended parties felt it was hurtful to people who have Down's Syndrome and other mental disabilities. Regardless of that issue, it seems words that just like the word "retarded", words like, "idiot" and "moron" were once acceptable medical terms also.
I think in the world of Christianity we have some words that have similarly degraded over time. The word, "religious" was once a label to describe a Christian. Over time this word has become a negative word, meaning something closer to, "Pharisaical". The word "fundamentalist" has had a similar downward slide. Once meaning, "One who sticks to the fundamentals of the faith", now it can mean basically the same thing as "religious". I am wondering which word will be next.
So should we just stop using labels completely? As I said above, I think that is a little bit of an unrealistic goal. Rather, I believe we should, as far as it is possible, describe what we mean, especially when talking about other people. Let us, as far as it depends on us, live at peace with all men and strive to label people with love, sincerity and truth.
This video, from my friend Zach, shows Mark Driscoll doing that pretty well, I believe.