When my children were toddlers, we had a variety of toys and games, which required them to learn to sort and place things into categories based on size, shape, colors, or types of objects. It was a great learning activity that would help prepare them for more formal education a few years later.
My six grandchildren enjoyed updated versions of similar toys and games and it was fun to see them learn. Of course those same skills came into play when rooms needed to be picked up and clothes and toys put where they belonged.
I attended a conference that gave me new insight into this skill we all learn in one way or another at a very early age. It has been a month since the conference and I am still reaping nuggets from the plenary address by Dr. Diane Langberg.
You see, we continue to use those early childhood skills throughout our lifetime. How much we utilize them for practical purposes will often depend on our jobs, how much order we prefer in our surroundings, and what solutions our daily life might ask us to solve. There is no question the skills are a valuable tool long after we leave school.
I am not a fanatic when it comes to organization, but my closets, drawers, and cupboards would likely demonstrate a preference for order and structure.
There is another side to this skill we learn, however.
We also categorize other people and label them.
The challenge when we apply a label or a category to a person or a group of people is that we fall prey to divisiveness. That divisiveness, even when we are looking at true categories, can destroy us as well as those around us. This isn’t something new. There is a subtle power connected with it, however, that can seduce us into believing something that contradicts our tenets of faith and belief as Christians.
Adolf Hitler used labels and seduced a people to follow him. Initially, he said things many wanted to hear about the greatness of a nation defeated from the previous world war.
It happened when Hitler placed gypsies, Jews, the disabled, and others into categories he deemed to be a subset of humanity that needed to be destroyed so as not to harm his concept of a pure Germanic race. In doing so, he dehumanized millions of people and yet was so skillful in his seduction that the people of Germany did not realize what they were signing onto and what would result.
When we label and categorize people, we dehumanize. When we disagree, we must never dehumanize another person. When we do so, we are not Christ-like and totally secular, ungodly.
Labeling, putting into categories, and dehumanizing are not new. It is likely as old as mankind.
It was present when Jesus walked the earth.
You see evidences in the gospels. There were tax collectors, Sadducees, Pharisees, Samaritans, slaves, and more. Were they true categories at the time? Yes, but they were also used as in Hitler’s day to dehumanize and degrade anyone not in his or her own category.
If you listen carefully, you hear it today in the secular world as well as the church. It turns us into an “us and them” polarization and divides us over and over again and mars evidence of being Christlike. It shows itself as pride, self-righteousness, and more.
We see it when a homeless person slips into the back of our church. It shows up when we see a woman we believe looks like a prostitute, but those are only the more obvious ones. You see, we measure others by ourselves, so if the person doesn’t look like us, talk like us, dress like us, take communion like we do, or baptize as we do, we label them and the body tears apart just a little bit more.
Jesus crossed into our categories or we would have been dismissed. We were the Gentiles, not welcome in the synagogues of the day. He crossed categories when He spoke to women, slaves, tax collectors, a centurion, Samaritans, Pharisees, Sadducees, a wee man in a tree, fishermen, and more. Jesus, God made flesh, crossed every category. He looked at the heart of the person. He gave dignity to those who had been dehumanized. He did not fit in with the secular world or the religious world.
He has left us here in His stead, to occupy until He comes.
We are citizens of His Kingdom, the real undocumented immigrants of this world, but while here serving citizens here no matter their categories.
17 thoughts on “Sorting, Labeling, Categorizing”
I loved your post. It is an important reminder of how we are to love one another and not to label those who seem different from us. Thanks for linking up with us at the #LMMLinkup this past week. I selected your post as my favorite.
Thanks so much, Mary. I am being reminded of that in a deeper way as I read Unified by Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy for a review I will be posting later in the week. Blessings on your day and week!💕
“We are citizens of His Kingdom, the real undocumented immigrants of this world, but while here serving citizens here no matter their categories.” Amen, Pam! Jesus gave us the example to follow and we need so much to be like him in our world today. Thank you for this message. Blessings to you! Thank you for sharing with us at the #LMMLinkup.
Thanks so much, Gayl! You never fail to offer encouragement by your specific comments! Blessings and hugs to you!💕
Like most things in life, labeling can be used for the good – organization, order, etc – or for evil – when you use labels as a way to discriminate. There are always two sides of everything, and just like organization is something we learn from the early stages of life, so is the differerence between good and evil.
Thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party, and have a wonderful weekend.
Thanks, Teresa! Well said! Hope your weekend has been a great one!!😊
Yes discrimination is such an ugly thing! The enemy has a field day with this in all areas both in the world & in the church! 🙁
Good post Pam, definitely we need A New Lens on this issue!
It is indeed! I am not sure we will see it removed before the Lord’s return. Certainly it has to be part of the package that came with the fall in the Garden!!
Blessings on your weekend, Jennifer!☕️
Thank you, you too!
A very thoughtful post. If we could do more to bring us together and less to separate the world would be so much better.
Thanks so much 💕
Such a thought provoking post, Pam! Thank you so much for sharing your gleanings with us. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the hidden effects of pride, and this post is a good reminder to allow the love of Christ through us to cross categories we dream up. Blessings!
Thanks so much, Carlie! This is an area where we can all fall into the trap and never more so than in our current culture. Blessings on your day and thanks for your affirmation and encouragement 💕
My quiet time today was in Eph. 6:7-9, and my application is to not show favoritism but accept everyone like God accepts and loves us all. So this fits seamlessly with what God is reminding me to do and be today, Pam! Oh, and I love Diane Langberg! What conference did you hear her speak at? I often go to the AACC conferences, where she’s a plenary speaker a lot of the time. I’ve pinned this post and am grateful for the gems you gleaned for us today!
I so love when the Lord confirms something and it is fun when I get that from a sister who is blogging!💕 We are on the same page about Diane. My husband and I have been AACC members since the early 90’s and attended every AACC World Conference from 1995 until 2017 as well as a number of National conferences. I was blessed to have Diane come to the church where I was on staff in 2006 and also have her giving a Professional Workshop with CEU’s for the professionals who were able to come in the afternoon. It was such a blessing! Great to learn we share some similar experiences and some people. As the clinical counselor on staff I also had a number of ministries that I created or provided oversight for. One was the premarital and marriage ministry. We were blessed to have some great folks come for several marriage conferences that I met through AACC: Tim Clinton, Les Parrott, and Erin & Greg Smalley. 😊