I just came across a tweet by a popular feminist, female, Christian blogger. She said that she wanted to put an item on her Christmas list: The Egalitarian Bible called, “The Inclusive Bible”. Seriously?! Okay so, whose idea was it to publish an Egalitarian Bible?! Whose IDEA?! I was fuming and again, used every ounce of self control I had left (which isn’t much, ask my wife) to be silent on the topic. I don’t want to brag, but I succeeded.
This brings me to the question: Why do Christians want or even need labels?
The need or want to be labeled is nothing new. This has always been a thing in the church. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have all of these silly denominations. I mean there are denominations of denominations (eg. Seventh Day Baptist). There are even non-denominational denominations (eg. Calvary Chapel “distinctives”)! So, argue with me all you want, it is a thing.
I wonder sometimes if I could make a ton of money for Jesus by inventing some sort of Christian Label Maker. You know, like, a label maker that is big enough to dispense a label on an adult’s back as they walk across the threshold of the church.
I imagine people walking by me as I label them:
Me – “Hmmm let me see here, would you like a label?”
Christian – “Why yes! Can you label me ‘Vegan feminist, gluten killer, Non-denominational, Hillsong’ Christian?”
Me – “Coming right up sister!”
Christian – “Oh and make one for my husband too. He’s also a feminist…because I told him to be one. Praise the Lord! Thanks! Good vibes!”
*Label is printed and I gently put it on her back and make the same for her…husband*
I can’t lie and say I never felt the same way about labels as I do now; because, there was a time where I felt like I had to have a label. I remember when I first got saved (for real), I wanted a label. I went crazy on the Christian apparel so all my non-Christian friends could label me. Then I took my theology to the next level and wanted my Christian peers to label me a “charismatic, new reformed, covenant Christian”; and if they didn’t label me, I judged them on their lack of theological prowess they had. How ridiculous right? I even had my “Reformed Study Bible” all noted up. Oh yeah!
Over time though, I’ve come to realize that this ideology is wrong. It feeds into the self absorbed issues we are already dealing with today. If you think about it, it is just one more thing that separates us less from the world. People want a label. They want to identify. They want others to identify with them. They want to share labels. As Christians, we are only supposed to have one identity, one label; and that identity is with Jesus. Yet, Christians want other Christians to identify with them. It could be anything: a certain style of music, theology, dietary, even something as silly the style of leggings a woman wears. There I said it. The legging thing is stupid. But, all of these things are real and they are real things that include or exclude others into or from the body of Christ!
It is not an easy task to identify with Christ. It is an uphill battle (Galatians 5:17). Just 20 minutes ago, I said some terrible things to my wife. I am sure if she labeled me, it wouldn’t be appropriate after the remarks I made to her. Not that she’s an evil, inappropriate person; but, I said some evil things and I deserve an evil label.
Here lies the problem: because we have a hard time identifying with Christ (we are only human), we want to label things to cloud up the real problem. Then, the problem never gets solved. Then, you have a church full of labels. Then, you have labeled Bibles being printed to appease the self absorption we all feed on. Then you have factions in the church because everyone is self entitled to some kind of label. It’s a train wreck.
So, am I going to buy an Egalitarian Bible? Nope. Do I carry my Reformed Study Bible around still? Nope. Will I ever again? Maybe, if I think I can do it without wanting a label or someone labeling me. We don’t need labels. We don’t need any identity but One.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
-Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)