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I don’t know what you need. But I know what you don’t need. And that’s another review or comment in the ongoing, web-consuming Love Wins saga. I’ve now read the book, but that’s all you’re getting.

What has struck me though is the need most people have to label something they are unsure of, and in doing so make it safe. Folks on both sides of this current debate have thrown labels at each other than they would say were descriptive but are likely to be received as hurtful. Heretic. Universalist. Conservative. Fundamentalist. Liberal. False teacher. Small minded. Pedant. Poopyhead.

Before we judge we have to ask are we any different? What is it about the unknown that sparks a panic in our brains? When we can’t fit what we see in the boxes or descriptions we are happy with we try to force it into the closest fit. It’s simply not the done thing to have a label marked ‘misc’ that you can hand out willy nilly.

Which is a shame. Here’s a confession – I’m still not entirely sure what people mean when they ask if my church is ‘charismatic’. Are they asking if my church exudes a compelling charm? And do they see it as a good thing? And if it’s not charismatic then what is it? It gets worse when people try to label individuals. Am I charismatic? Well the ladies seem to think so…

The thing is I like charismatic, but I also like conservative. But which is better? There’s only one way to find out…

Jesus didn’t seem to be to worried about labels. He was called everything from a demon to the Son of God, via a few resurrected prophets. Who do you say I am He asked? Not which of your mental boxes do I best fit. In fact God Himself is a bit elusive in the old labelling plot too. Have you seen how many names He has? One of them is ‘I Am that I Am’ talk about not giving much away. He’s jealous but loving, kind but strict, wrathful yet full of grace. He is what He is alright.

I can’t label any of those things for you. But I can tell you where I fit. I’m a disciple. Anything else – friend, son, heir, priest, apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, husband, youth worker, brother  – it all takes a back seat to that.

After all we’re all following something.