How Do You Catagorize Yourself?

A bible story and a television commercial got me thinking about:
CATEGORIES

In a commercial for a soft drink, people appear on a street wearing t-shirts proclaiming their identity.

I’m a dreamer.
I’m a winner.
I’m a survivor.
I’m a wingman.
I’m a beginner.
I’m a fighter.
I’m a …

I wonder what it would look like if we gathered all the dreamers in a group, the winners in another group, and so on. Would the wingmen look different than the survivors? The beginners? The fighters?

Maybe more importantly…would we judge them, treat them differently, simply because of the labels on their shirts?

Sounds silly, right? Why would we base our opinions of people on something as superficial as a t-shirt slogan?

What if the labels were things like Democrat or Republican? How about Christian? Muslim? Mormon?

If we’re honest, I’ll bet some of those labels evoke some sort of reaction. It’s as though we know something about those people. We categorize individuals based on labels, and those categories subtly, or not so subtly, impact how we engage them.

Jesus experienced that same issue. In Mark 2:13-17 He called Levi to follow Him. Then He did the socially unthinkable: He accepted Levi’s dinner invitation.

Levi’s t-shirt said “I’m a tax collector.” In first century Jewish culture the tax collectors were the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst. They were outcasts, shunned by nearly everyone. So Levi’s only friends were other outcasts. In fact, they probably all wore shirts proclaiming “I’m an outcast.”

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (verse 16)

I do it. You do it. We all put people in categories, often based on a superficial label that has little to do with the heart inside the shirt.

I’m beginning this week with gratitude for Jesus, who sees me and not the label on my t-shirt.

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of: Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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