I grew up in Williston, ND and attended Wilkinson Elementary School. I also had friends who Rickard, McVey, and Webster Schools. I was United Methodist and the other kids on my block attended the Baptist, Catholic, and Lutheran Churches. In Junior High School, I had friends in many of the class groupings: 7-A through 7-F. Now I’m a pastor and I find myself placed in categories once again. Pastors are conservative, evangelical, moderate, and progressive.
I had a friend who got into a little mischief and was sent to juvenile court when he was a kid. Some of the people in his small town called him a problem child and wouldn’t give him the encouragement he needed to mature. Instead of growing into a productive young man he lived down to the expectations people had placed upon him.
I had a friend who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. She was labeled by her parent’s poverty and their low station in life. She moved away and married someone else from town who became an attorney in a big city. This gave her the chance to make a name for herself beyond her family and her small midwestern town. Her husband wanted to move back to their hometown, but she couldn’t make that move and risk losing her new identity.
I know a young man who attended technical school. Shortly before his wedding, the bride’s uncle asked him how he could support his wife with such an inconsequential degree. Today that young man owns a thriving business.
SOMETIMES categories are used to dehumanize or limit people’s capacity by giving them a label.
The Apostle Paul said,
28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
In Christ, all our human labels are stripped away and the only thing that remains are Abraham’s offspring. This is a way of saying the remnant of Abraham are the seeds of Jesus offspring. Paul recognizes the message of Christ is for the Jews, but it is also for everyone in the world. Christ only wants to recognize everyone as members of the body of Christ. Any human label we use is of little consequence.
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