I did something last night that I haven’t wanted to do. I looked up the fb sites of my old sorority sisters. There is a master site for people who were in my sorority at UGA. It’s pretty amazing how much you can envision through a few pictures and tiny bits of information. Only a few of the girls were my friends back then, or I theirs. But I lived with all of them, ate with all of them, wore the same clothes as they did.
As I said, about all I had to clue me in was a picture and the things that they included on their profiles…it’s funny how that little information, perhaps inaccurately discerned, painted a whole picture of what their last twenty years had been in my mind.
Most didn’t share much with non-friends, and I still didn’t want to befriend, God’s working on me in that. But as I read their pages and labels God shook me.
“What do those things, those shallow, ridiculous identifiers do to your desire to know those people, even the ones who might choose similar id’s to you? Do they make you want to pursue the person? Do they make you want to talk with them about life and growing up and what really matters in it all?”
The id’s make me want to give up hope for anything real being in them or between us…anything that might want to connect with me, love me. I do want to hear their stories and hearts, their victories and failings. Those things don’t scare me, nor do their mistakes nor their rants nor their hurts. I really understand those things. I wouldn’t mind an ear sometimes myself, someone who has walked through some things that I have. It’s those labels…that make me throw my hands up in hopelessness and despair. The labels scream at me, “You are not one of us. We don’t care about you.”
See, in that sorority, I am now the outsider. I am the one who left, who quit them, walked away. Most of my reasons were good, but beyond the understanding of many. But it was never about any of those girls. God has been pushing me to make contact anew with some, to just love them.
But those labels scare me. No matter how much silliness may have accompanied their selection, they intimidate me, the one seeking relationship and reconciliation.
I think that might be how those outside of Christ see us – the faithful sisters and brothers.
Those little silly labels, especially in this information age – where flesh and blood contact is so very rare – may be huge walls of partition. To those outside THEY ARE SCARY. Not many people will scale a huge, often razor wired wall, to check out how great the people on the inside might actually be.
SO who are the labels for ? What comfort or sense of acceptance or solidarity to they actually provide us? Very little. But we are sending huge signals to people who come across us or are maybe seeking us out.
In person would we introduce ourselves so? Hello. I am Kim Sullivan: Democrat or Republican or Independent; conservative or liberal, denomination, pro-life or pro-choice, pro-immigration or anti- immigration, etc. You get the picture. And yet I think that there may be people scoping us out on FB, hoping for a snippet of our story, that we might be someone who could understand and listen and maybe…just maybe, love them.
I have looked up hundreds of people…just looked and tried to see if they were okay…and sometimes just looked for someone who might be able to help me a little, too.
As followers of Christ, we heed Him and His ways, but we are to build bridges not walls with man. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all means I might save some.” That’s not about plurality…it’s about kindness and respect and genuine desire to know and care for them.
I am guilty of this myself. The hiding, the insulating, the being less.
Let’s think for a moment. What we would feel if we were searching, we were outside and someone we thought might really care, (re) introduced themselves to us with “I hate everything and everyone you associate yourself with, I think your views are all wrong and I am right.” Fabulous place to start dialogue – relationship, right? That my friend is a 100 foot razor wire wall!
Somebody tell me what is remotely evangelical about that?
I thought evangelism was about demonstrating the love of Christ and the open way He has made for us all.