Categories.

My friend Rich Dixon is helping me out here, with posts that come just at the right time and just with the right challenge for me.

“What do you think of them?”

Rich and Becky in a group of other cyclists. A category of their own.

My wise friend Dr. Dick Foth has a wonderful response when someone wants to talk about people in categories. When someone asks, “What do you think of them?” Dick replies, “Which one?”

Lumping people into categories is a natural human tendency. We all do it, because it makes life a whole lot simpler. For example, I have some notion about what chaplains are like. So once I know Jon’s a chaplain, I feel like I know a lot about him.

+ + +

Jesus confronted categories. Sick people. Tax collectors. Poor folks. Lepers. Samaritans. The religious types avoided them because everyone knew about those people.

If someone had asked Jesus what He thought about those people, He might have asked, “Which one?”

So He asked a woman for a drink. A Samaritan woman. By herself at a well, outcast because of her sexual history. A respectable rabbi shouldn’t have been alone with someone like her.

But He didn’t see a “Samaritan woman with a bad reputation.” He didn’t insist she carry all the customary baggage associated with her categories.

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Chaplains come in all shapes and sizes. Different beliefs and backgrounds. Some mostly check boxes, some are deeply involved and helpful in times of illness, grief, and death.

You and I know a lot about Jon because we’ve spent time with him here. We’ve listened to him and learned to trust his heart for people and love for Jesus.

We don’t know Jon because we know he’s a chaplain. We know him because we know him.

People wear all kinds of hats and uniforms. Some have tattoos, some are bald or have colored hair. Next time someone asks what you think of people like that, what if you asked:

Which one?

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