PIGEONHOLE - verb: assign to a particular category, typically an overly restrictive one.
As in: ‘They've been unfairly pigeonholed as a team that kicks to the corners all the time.’
Are we not all guilty?
We attempt to understand what goes on around us and embrace a world view that strikes us as consistent. Unfortunately, the way that we go about it reflects our inherent ego-centrism. We share a compulsion to prove ourselves a cut above the rest. Couple that with our incomplete knowledge (i.e., ignorance), and we have the ingredients for a consistent world view, but one that is grossly over-simplistic and potentially dangerous.
Don't you hate being pigeonholed? I cringe when meeting people who see me with only one word on their mind: gringo, foreigner, tourist, senior, missionary... pick one. Yet I find in my own heart the propensity for doing the same to others.
Judging others is a favorite universal pastime. Anyone can play. It requires minimal intelligence. We don't see or know enough about others to avoid missing the mark with our grandiloquent assumptions. We err with staggering frequency. We end up living in a deceived little world rife with mistaken perceptions.
The wrongful judging of others is a prevailing battle even in church settings where the Holy Spirit is convicting and drawing to better things. How, then, can we expect anything less than extreme behavior from unregenerate sociopaths in the world?
Pigeonholing is for the insecure, the lazy and the ignorant. We build our imaginary little world by extrapolating from isolated experiences. From those tiny moments, we assemble whole portraits of a person, a family, people of a certain region, or of a certain “racial” origin.
Unchecked pigeonholing degenerates into dehumanizing.
Ideological/religious fanatics and terrorists share certain characteristics in common:
Pigeonholing is its own curse. It will make us superstitious, fearful, paranoid, insulated, conceited, blind, hateful and errant. Any of these characteristics would make Jesus followers unappealing to a world that we are supposed to be drawing to God’s love. They would render us useless as his emissaries.
God has provided a single solution for our universally shared, sinful condition. He never assigned me to a subset of humans. He has never treated me differently or offered me less because of my linkage to a particular people group as a subset of the whole. He loves me as if I were the only believer on the planet, with the same attention to detail that each of His children experiences.
"You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one." John 8:15
Jesus Christ, in His role as the Grand Reconciler, judged no one. He had not come to condemn, but to find the lost and to save the sinner. In essence, we are earthly representatives of Jesus the Reconciler, not Jesus the future judge. He left an example for us to follow.
Maybe we should try that.
Note to self:
Next Sunday morning, I should take a good look around me. Which of my freeze frame memories of the people I see defines a whole person or an entire life? Impossible. And yet, in my heart, have I not pigeonholed some people? And has not that fault bled into my teaching? Me vs. them? Preaching in second person plural (you) when first person plural (we) is what is called for?
Note to others:
Don't let phony judges tell you who you are. You are only encapsulated by a single freeze frame in the warped minds of imperfect people. You remain a whole person… someone who God remains greatly interested in. You must not resign yourself to being merely what other people think you are. It doesn't matter what your story line looks like up to now. That need not limit or predict your future.
"Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer,…" Romans 14:13
It’s the human race. There are no subsets. Who is your neighbor?
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 36 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6