No matter how those questions are answered, someone with a different opinion is likely to label the person who has an opposite point of view as stupid, moron, heathen, radical, socialist, idiot, unpatriotic, clueless. We are quite prone these days to hurl hateful adjectives toward other human beings created in the image of God. We seem to have lost our ability for civil discourse, thoughtful discussion, exchanging ideas, and giving one another space to have diverse opinions about politics, culture, and the church.
The destructive art of label making has reached new heights during the current election season. We constantly divide ourselves into groups of "Us" and "Them." This tendency is reinforced by partisan 24/7 television news broadcasts and social media platforms incessantly demanding that we click, like, copy, paste, repost, favorite, comment, and agree. And if we dare to refuse, we will be unfriended, deleted, boycotted, and tossed away.
We don't have to agree with one another to be kind to one another. Those who call themselves Christians are commanded by Jesus himself to love one another. It is sad that the name calling comes from inside the church as often as it comes from outside it. The label makers on any side of an issue take the name of the Lord in vain each time they use his name as an excuse to hate, judge, or exclude those they consider "The Others." People with healthy faith recognize that God has not called us to be label makers. He has called us to be peacemakers.
The mug is not very valuable, monetarily speaking. But it is a precious treasure to me. It has a long history of generational ownership in my family. My mother gave her mother a flower arrangement in it for Mother’s Day one year. When my grandmother gave away her things to move into assisted living, my mother inherited the mug. It hung on a hook in her kitchen for decades. When my mother moved into a senior living facility, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were honored to look through the possessions she had collected over a lifetime and take whatever they wanted. I chose the mug because I like rainbows and I love my mother and my grandmother. It makes me happy to think of them as I sit in the sunroom sipping my morning spicy ginger tea.
Although the story of my mug is quite innocuous, anyone who knows me is aware that I have strong opinions on all manner of things. And I am deeply convinced of this. It is time for all who say they believe in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to make the world a little less fractured by refusing to label the people our Father God has placed in it with any other name than His. Resolving to be peacemakers, instead of label makers, is a good way to bloom where we are planted, living a faith of hope and joy.