Prejudice Essay, Research Paper
How does God look at all people? Is there justice in our attitudes and relationships? The prophet, Micah, cried out, ?He has shown you, O man what is good; and what does the lord require of youů but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?? To do justly is to have Godĺs attitude and to see all people as He does. It seems that justice is one of Godĺs requirements.
Prejudice is a destroyer of truth. If our responses and attitudes are formed from a source of anything less than absolute truth, we simply have to admit that we have prejudiced opinions. It is a lie deeply hidden in our personalities. It prevents true communication, because it involves presumption. Prejudice is an opinion or decision of mind formed without due examination of the facts or arguments which are necessary to a just and impartial determination. It is pre-judging. Where is its source? Many do not even know the source. It can come from years of believing a lie or exaggerated truth. Children are so easily influenced during their formative years. If parents or others in their environment have prejudiced attitudes, the child will be affected. Prejudice is contagious. Many groupings are no more than a gathering of people with mutual prejudices. Unity and growth can be easily produced in such a group, but it is an unhealthy development. Bitterness is the motivating force behind it all. The group is ah association of bitter people held together by common prejudices.
There are many different kinds of prejudices. When you see the word, ?prejudice,? do you immediately think of racism? Racial prejudice is very real and it is probably the easiest kind to recognize. The war between the races did not begin in the United States. In fact we go to 1400 B.C. and from the book of numbers 12:1, ?Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.? (NKJ) It would seem that they had certain attitudes about the Ethiopians and felt that she was just like the label they had put on the whole group. Would not that be unfair to her? Is that justice? The racial prejudice continued to separate real association between the Jews and the Gentiles, the Jews and the Samaritans, and was an element of dissension in the New Testament Church. Right in our generation, I remember signs on the back of the bus that read, colored passengers take rear seats. There were two water fountains: White and Colored. There were three restrooms: Men, Women, Colored. The whites had a name for the blacks and the blacks had a name for the whites. Do you think that minority groups take the injustice of their oppressors without reaction? There is deep rooted prejudice among many people on each ?side?. I was well acquainted with the feelings between blacks and whites, but was shocked at what I learned on my first trip to Mexico. We were spending the night at a border church memberĺs house. He was stationed at a nearby Air Force base. I simply made the remark, ? I guess that you have really enjoyed living this close to Mexico.? He replied, ? I will be getting out in six more months and I hope that I never see another Mexican again.? I hurtůI could not believe it. My idea of the Mexican people had always been that they were our friendly neighbors to the South and I was intrigued by their culture. Then I learned that the Mexican people had bitter feelings against the Anglos also. I even discovered that the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were prejudiced against each other.
My first attempt to reach into other cultures with the Gospel message was when I directed a coffeehouse ministry in1970. We were working late at night trying to get ready to open the new center. We had stopped to eat and I was halfway through a ham sandwich when a young black boy stopped at the door and looked in. I went to the door and mat him with my ?white? hand reached out to invite him to the new center. When I walked back to continue eating, something deep inside said, ? Wash your hands.? I thought, ?Would I have felt the same way if I had shaken a white hand?? I knew God had called me to reach all people, but how could I if I felt this way? Something deep inside had told me that one hand was dirtier than the other. My opinion had been reached through assumption. To face reality, I refused to follow my feelings and ate the other half of the sandwich.
Perhaps you really have no problem in your attitude toward other races. However, I feel that a more careful look at this subject will reveal prejudices attitudes between the rich and the poor, the landlords and the tenents, the labor unions and the management, and those of different political persuasions. Many times there are strong feelings and exaggerations that exist between the educated and the uneducated groupings. The man with the degrees will set himself on a higher level than the other. The man with his high school diploma or maybe none will look at the other and say, ?look at the brain and he canĺt even change a tire.?
It is Society VS the Prisoners, the Mentally Illů the Handicapped. It was the straight people vs the hippiesůthe long hairs. A few years ago, I heard a young man with long hair give a beautiful testimony of his recent conversion to Christ. The next Sunday morning a preacher who had also attended the meeting was heard to say, ?Heĺs not anymore of a Christian than my dog.? Was that a fair statement?
Prejudice is a sin among the many sins of this world. Yet, the most grieving realization is that it is part of the church among a people who claim the love of God. It is true that there is Religious and Denominational Prejudice. How many Protestants tell stories about the Catholics without any first hand knowledge? There were two cars driving down the freeway. As one passed the other, they obeyed the bumper sticker that said ľ Honk if you love Jesus. They waved at each other and both took the same exit and stopped at the same restaurant. As they got out of their cars they greeted each other with ľ Praise the Lord. What was the next question? You guessed itůWhat church do you go to? Weĺre Baptistůand you? Weĺre Methodists ůa silenceůthenůOh. The conversation was over with no fellowship as they privately ate their meal and left. There are such exaggerated attitudes that came from deep within. I heard a preacher pass by a sign that read, Church of Christ. He remarked, there is the Church without Christ. When the Pentecostals began to emerge in the early 1900ĺs, they faced a great deal of persecution. A baptism of love should have gotten rid of any prejudice, but it seemed that he defense mechanism produced more than scripturally based convictions. Then the Charismatics came forth and many times their unity and growth were also tainted with feelings against what was called the ?denominational churches.? There were group jokes like getting the ?left food? of fellowship or leaving the church when you had to ?skate? down the aisle and shake hands with the ?polar bear? behind the pulpit. Can you see that prejudice hinders relationships in the body of Christ?
God hates sin. However, it is possible to be prejudice against sinners. Much of the church is prejudiced against homosexuals. One man said, ?I know what to do with themůyou hit them right between the eyes.? God hates sin, but He loves sinners. We must separate the sin from the sinner and separate sin from the Christian. We have been given the Great Commission to take the gospel to the whole world.
What effect does prejudice have in ministry? Prejudice is the hindrance to reaching all people. It will limit your effectiveness or you will miss out on your ministry entirely. It will turn you into an arrogant ministerůwith a feeling of superiorityůpreaching down to others. God views all people through His eyes of love. Jesus said, ?I must needs go through Samaria.?(KJ) He met the needs of the Samaritan woman in a culture that said that a Jew should have nothing to do with the Samaritans. He shared His Living Water and she brought others to Him. Love brought Peter and Cornelius together and Gentiles received the Gospel. St. Luke reported Peterĺs change of attitude in Acts 10:34-35, ?Then Peter opened his mouth and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh Righteousness is accepted of Him*?(KJ)
Do you tell culture jokes? Do you change your conversation when a member of another group is in your presence? Do you cater to the prejudices of others to get their laughs and their acceptance? Have you reduced a person to a pronoun and refer to the group as ?them?? Prejudice is not Christian. Repentance is needed. You must come face to face with yourself and seek Godĺs forgiveness and forgive others. You must see your sin, hate your sin, and turn from your sin. It is true that you might have been hurt by a member of a certain group. Yet, you blame the whole group. You will need to forgive the whole group before you can forgive the individual and obtain Godĺs forgiveness.
Where is it in your life? Will you bring to the surface a carefully hidden lie and begin to walk in truth?