The Cruel Art of Labeling

The Cruel Art of Labeling

Labeling can stop a conversation.

Like the old children’s game, Pin the Tail On the Donkey, once the donkey is properly pinned, the game is won. If the enemy can be properly labeled or mislabeled, the verdict for destruction is in place.

This is not new. They called Jesus a friend of sinners, a glutton, and a drunkard. They called him a blasphemer. They suggested that he was somehow a threat to Rome and that anyone who looked the other way would be “no friend of Caesar’s.” Few of these “labelers” ever had a sit-down face-to-face with Jesus. They just knew he was dangerous. They were right. If his understanding of the world were to prevail, it would turn the world as they knew it upside down.

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You’re Invited To A Holy Conversation

You’re Invited To A Holy Conversation

Mr. Everett Whittington was the Sunday school superintendent in my first pastorate at New Salem, Mississippi. I was only sixteen, and he was about eighty. The little country church at the end of the gravel road could get hot as blazes in the humid summer South.

I preached to my little congregation of ten while standing six inches under a naked hundred-watt bulb dangling from a wire in the ceiling. I’ve always wondered if this was the beginning of a bald spot about the size of a light bulb’s heat pattern. Red wasps circled the bulb as I preached. The heat attracted them. I was always cautious about breathing deeply or gesturing liberally.

A local businessman heard of our “heated” summer services and graciously donated an air conditioner for the church sanctuary. I was elated. When I presented the gift to the church board, Mr. Everett immediately staked his ground. “I’m against it!” And with that, the discussion was ended.

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