I’m not a fan of generalisations, even though I fall prey to them just like everyone else. Generalisations come in all shapes and sizes, and label people according to some strange grouping where everyone is ‘exactly the same’. Being a science-fiction writer this tends to make me think a little like this: people are robots and are classified into their neat little programmed groups – the hipster robots, the goth robots, the middle-aged robots, the home-schooler robots, the ‘snotty-nosed-kid’ robots, the Christian robots, the Atheist robots, the girl robots, the boy robots, the gay robots, the arty robots, the stuffed-shirts robots, the ‘other-race-that-isn’t-me’ robots and so on. I can only generalise about these groups if I see them as robots because otherwise I have to see them as actual people, with feelings and thoughts of their very own. And if I see them like that, I can no longer generalise about them. Generalisation is dangerous. It causes racism, xenophobia, discrimination, hatred, misunderstanding… the list goes on. So why do I hear it so much in the church? Even within the church we sometimes have the tendency to categorise ‘us’ and ‘them’. Unfortunately I’m not even talking, ‘Christians’ and ‘Non-Christians’, though I have heard that too. I’m talking ‘this-type-of-Christian’ and ‘that-type-of-Christian’. I know because I’ve been guilty of it. I guess sometimes we forget that we serve this God who shattered our preconceived ideas of ‘us’ and ‘them’. He came to the Jews and told them Gentiles could come in too. He chose ordinary people to be his disciples instead of going to the synagogue to find learned men to follow him. He sat with ‘one-of-those-Samaritan’s’ and had a conversation with her. He claimed that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’. Wow. Generalisations smashed to pieces. I don’t want to look at someone and pin a label on them because of what they look like or something they have said. People are made up of more than one moment, one impression, one choice. People are a lifetime of moments, interwoven with choices that make them into a unique individual, no matter how much they fit the label. And I don’t want people to label me either. There is nothing more frustrating than people making assumptions about me because of one thing they know about me. When they do that I struggle to trust that they will do the work to find out who I am. God requires more of us. He requires that we find out who people are before making these blanket statements about their faith, their ideas, and their choices. This is love: the work of getting to know a person and understanding their perspective and how God fits into it. The hardest part comes next: to continue that love even when we don’t agree, even when we don’t like, even when we find it hard to love. And it’s by this that people will know that we are his disciples.