Sometimes labels can be confusing.
In the grocery store, “low fat,” “lite,” and “fat-free” do not mean the same things.
I quit diet sodas a decade or so ago, partly because they obviously make people fat. (Since I’ve already reached that goal, I don’t need extra help.) But I’d noticed that my Diet Coke can was labeled with a “nutrition facts” box. I know the Nanny State requires that label, but I also know that nutrition was the last thing on my mind when I wanted a diet drink. (I must not have cared much about taste either.)
For that matter, great nutrition is not my prime motivator when I want a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with cheese at McDonald’s. I couldn’t care less about the fat content in the fries, though I care deeply about their taste. (I’m personally convinced that moderate amounts of just about any food you want to name will not hurt folks who have no malady which mandates a restricted diet. I also know most of us have a real problem with moderation.) If you want to worry about your fries at McDonald’s, there’s a “label” on the wall that will describe their fat content. There is no label that discusses how years of worry over such trivia will shorten your life or make you no fun to be around. Pass the salt.
Labels and more labels. At the pharmacy, Benadryl allergy medicine, “Sleep-eaze,” and Tylenol P.M. all make you sleepy for the very same reason—they contain exactly the same amounts per capsule of diphenhydramine, antihistamine which not only might make you drowsy, it’s so good at it that it is also marketed as a sleep aid.
Fine. Except that not only can labels be confusing, they can be dangerous. I wonder how many folks overdose by taking a dose of antihistamine and a dose of Tylenol P.M. and unwittingly double dip? Neither label helps much.
Labels. They can be frustrating and silly, confusing and dangerous.
Nowhere are labels more confusing than on church signs.
In my own religious heritage are three groups with exactly the same roots. Not at all what our forefathers intended, now each group worships under its own sign—Church of Christ, Christian Church (independent), or Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In the North, the names Church of Christ and Christian Church are used pretty interchangeably. Horrors! Imagine the difficulty! A person might stumble into worshiping with someone across the denominational fence—and maybe learn something of value while the wall is inadvertently breached.
I’m not picking on anyone, but Baptists have exactly the same problem. Southern, Free Will, Primitive, etc.
So do Methodists. United, Cumberland, Evangelical, etc.
And so do Podiatrists. Lite, Fat-free, Non-fat, etc. Just kidding.
But I’m not kidding about this: If I were looking for a church, I’d look for one where the worshipers, no matter what the sign outside their building, genuinely worship under a “sign” that looks a whole lot like—actually, exactly like—the cross.
It’s the one that really matters.
Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.