Wednesday, August 24, 2016

“The problem with labels is they lead to stereotypes - and stereotypes lead to generalizations - and generalizations lead to assumptions - and assumptions lead back to stereotypes.”

“Once you label me you negate me.” ― Søren Kierkegaard: (1813 –1855: was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher)

Gospel Text: (JN 1:45-51)
Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

In these days with constant news of terrorism, bombings, and other forms of violence on television and on the internet, it's very easy to create stereotypes with people we meet. We see a dark-skinned, bearded man with an accent boarding a flight and, right away, we'd think. . . "Hi-jacker" . . . or maybe, "suicide bomber!" A man entering a store wearing a hoodie could easily be seen as a shoplifter or thief. 

Sometimes, it's difficult not to think like this, with these stereotypes but this was no problem for the Lord. Jesus only saw the best of each person whether Nazarene, Israelite or any other. Often, He would even see more good in a person than that person even saw in himself. Christ sees the goodness of God in our spirit. He sees the real us. What would it take for us to start seeing the goodness of God in others?

We need to go beyond what we notice initially. There are deeper levels to every person we encounter. We shouldn't just rely on first impressions. After the initial niceties and formal salutations, discovering the real person might be quite surprising. We realize that we all want to respect others and have others respect us. Jesus challenges us to level up and love one another, even the ones that we don't find lovable . . . at the start.

Develop the relationship and again be caught off guard in a wonderful way.

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