lets be nouns
this is from a post i wrote quite a few years ago. my mentor terry sanders and i were talking this morning and it reminded me of this. so im posting it again for his sake.
we like to label things. labels make things safer. compartments make us feel warm and cozy. we are comforted with the idea that everything we encounter can be qualified and quantified into predetermined categories that fit our understanding and worldview.
but this is a fairytale. and i am beginning to believe that its also a sin. consider this: how diverse is the universe god created? i would guess its diversity would simply overwhelm us if we could even begin to fathom it. take a look at humanity alone. how many of you are there in this world of 6 billion people? right. one. which of course also means that theres 6 billion unique individuals alive at this moment on this planet.
did god create us diverse? absolutely. did he do it to separate us from each other and cause division among his creation resulting in animosity elitism hatred bigotry and war?
ill take ‘no’ for 1ooo alex.
yet what do we do? we qualify and quantify and label and segregate and separate. and we kill each other over imaginary lines. and justify it in gods name. as if by stamping gods name on something we gain his approval. and christians do the same with christ.
did you know that the first time the word christian was ever used it was as an insult? pagans watching the first century believers taunted them by saying they were little christs. they labeled them an qualified them and quantified them. then they killed them. in all kinds of crazy painful ways. and all of it was a product of the same stuff that produces animosity elitism hatred bigotry and war
theres a pattern here.
now i know that these days theres a host of people claiming to be christian who would have never been confused for little christs. at the same time theres a whole other group stamping the name of christ all over everything they do thinking it makes those things sacred or right.
and i object.
think about this. can a book store be a little christ? can music be a little christ? can television be a little christ? if you answered yes to any of these stop reading and go away. christ is a relational person and the only possible little christ is another relational person. not a store. or type of music. or tv. etcetera ad nauseum.
so whats my point? to borrow a phrase from rob bell “christian is a great noun and a poor adjective.” placing it on things doesnt make them better or acceptable or right or godly. in fact often times just the opposite.
i can think of some easy examples. the crusades. the inquisition. just more animosity elitism hatred bigotry and war. but i had no part in the crusades or the inquisition so what about areas of my own life? what have i labeled christian that is not so? what have i blindly accepted under the guise of being christian that really isnt?
what have i qualified and quantified into predetermined categories that fit my understanding and worldview? and ultimately have i sinned in doing so? in not testing everything as 1 john 4:1 admonishes? have i failed to be discerning?
have we all?
we talk about christian politics and christian education and christian morals and i just want to grab a megaphone and scream…
CUT IT OUT!
branding things will never be the solution we are hoping for. it will end up just like every other thing weve labeled. animosity elitism hatred bigotry and war. doubt me? watch the news.
so since im pretty much nobody and my voice is small im going to go ahead and challenge those of you who are in my sphere. no more adjectival projections of the name of christ. lets quit allowing the devices of evil to govern our way of thinking and living. like the early followers who were identified as little christs by their very lives and willingness to lose them – lets surrender to the transformational power of the holy spirit inside us.
lets be nouns.