Stereotypes

Let me tell you about two students I met in Germany last week. One was this tall German guy with very modern looking brushed-steel glasses. He spoke with a medium German accent, was constantly asking questions and inquisitive about the issues that I was speaking on, very matter-of-fact, and analytical. One day he made an appointment with me and we went for a walk and sat by a beautiful stream. He began to tell me his story—about his family and how his parents are both very analytical, cognitive people. It was a good conversation.

 

I asked him if he’d ever been in love and to my surprise, he said “yes.” I said, “Well, was that a feeling?” (Because earlier, I had accused him of having no feelings.) He replied that it was a feeling and he loved it, but when he applied his mind to the object of his love, he decided that he did not want to spend the rest of his life with her. But then he surprised me: he told me that he goes to a Pentecostal church. He loves to dance in worship and to wave flags, and he loves the emotion of the Spirit. I couldn’t stop laughing because it seemed so incongruous with how he presents himself and how he thinks about himself. When the Spirit comes on him, he is free!

 

There was another girl who was very nice, she looked great, was easy to have a conversation with, and was from a town in California not very far from where I live. But when I had a one-on-one appointment with her, I realized that how she appears and who she is, are so different. There was so much hurt and pain and so many issues and barriers and chains around her. Her public persona was merely a disguise so that she would fit a stereotype that she felt was a good label. When you dug deeper and got to know her, you realized how needy and desperate she was for anyone who could explain to her the love of the Father. The reality is that we need to be careful about labeling and stereotypes—people may surprise you.

 

These two people just reminded me that I want to be free. I don’t want to be bound with stereotyping and labeling people. I don’t want people to label me. And when it comes to my walk with God and my relationship with the Spirit, I want to be free. I want to have freedom and be able to express my love and my worship to God in whatever way God directs and leads me.