Bible Ballistics: Vol. 12 No.15 Overcoming Prejudice???
Prejudice: “any unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand, without knowledge, thought or reason; any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable; unreasonable feelings, opinions or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.” Simply put it means to ‘judge’ something beforehand.
There’s a lot of talk about “prejudice” regarding race, ethnicity, social issues as well as religious beliefs, yet oft times it’s simply a matter coming back to God’s Word and remembering that God created “man” in His own image! Contrary to popular teaching, all things were created by God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and when remember that, it should change some attitudes!
“And God said,
Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness:
and let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea,
and over the fowl of the air,
and over the cattle,
and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing
that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God
in his own image,
in the image of God
created he him;
male and female
created he them.” Genesis 1:26-27
God The Creator made “man in our image”, creating us “In the beginning” and “in his own image” (Father, Son and Holy Spirit): All mankind—in—Adam! (See 1 Cor. 15:45)
“In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth….
2…….And the Spirit of God
moved upon the face of the waters……….
And God said,
Let there be…..” Portions of Genesis 1:1-3
We find the Holy Spirit of God involved in this account of creation, and we know that Jesus was/is God and He was there as well. The Apostle John fills in the details in this regard.
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning
3 All things were made by him;
and without him
was not any thing made
that was made.” John 1:1-3
John clearly assures us that Jesus was God, is God and all things “were made by him”, who was there with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Genesis creation account! Interestingly enough God created through something so simple that we often overlook its import, “And God said, Let there be..”—God spoke and “there was”! Jesus is so aptly described by John as “the Word”—the very vehicle of God’s demonstrated creative power through His Son, The Word! Paul also proclaims this creative work of Jesus in his letter to the Colossians, Jesus who is God, was God and ever shall be God, is holding all things together! (See Heb. 1:3)
“Who hath delivered us
from the power of darkness,
and hath translated us
into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption
through his blood,
even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image
of the invisible God,
of every creature:
16 For by him
were all things created,
that are in heaven,
and that are in earth,
whether they be thrones,
all things were created by him,
and for him:
17 And he is before all things,
and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:13-17
When we recognize God as The Creator, we must also recognize that since God The Father, Jesus The Son, and The Holy Spirit are the agent of creation, and “mankind” was created as the crowning glory we must act upon it! The Word clearly reveals to us that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him”—all men, women, boys and girls were and are created “in the image of God”! That my friend is regardless of color, race, ethnic origin, social order or religious beliefs. God calls us to remember that HE is creator and we are to respect all of His creation, especially His crowning glory! How can we hold those who are created in the image of God as less worthy of regard than we are? While we may differ greatly in our backgrounds, our opinions, our beliefs and our actions (and generally our real beliefs will dictate our actions), we are to treat each other with at the very least kindness not arrogant disregard for whatever reason.
What does all this have to do with overcoming “prejudice”? I think it has a lot to do with it, because when we judge others unworthy of God’s grace and salvation because of any ‘external’ issue, we have put ourselves in God’s place!
How much does it cost to be kind and respectful? Not much! And I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about compromise with sin, biblical Christianity, salvation or the truths of God’s Word, but I am talking about acting as though we are better than others because we are followers of Jesus, or of a particular skin-color, or from a particular social group or have more “stuff”, or more “culture”, or more “knowledge” than other persons. Daniel reminds us in his prayer of praise for answered prayer, that God is totally in control, and it’s only by God’s grace that we are who we are, where we are and possessing the opportunities that we have been given.
“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel
in a night vision.
Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel answered and said,
Blessed be the name of God
for ever and ever:
for wisdom and might
21 And he changeth
and the seasons:
and setteth up
he giveth wisdom
unto the wise,
to them that know understanding:
22 He revealeth
and secret things:
what is in the darkness,
and the light
dwelleth with him.
23 I thank thee, and praise thee,
O thou God of my fathers,
who hast given me
and hast made known unto me now
what we desired
for thou hast now made known
the king’s matter.” Daniel 2:19-23
Daniel was focused on God in all things, and we must do the same—Daniel was in service to a pagan king who was the enemy of his people, yet he served him with honor, respect, and faithful service by always honoring God and crediting HIM for his own abilities, and for answered prayer. We ought to be kind and helpful to those whom God brings into our lives by His sovereign work—regardless of how they look, or smell, or behave (Not compromising truth but “speaking the truth in love”, see Ephesians 4:15!), or whether or not they accept our kindness or believe our witness!
I had an experience that God used to get my attention just last week. We were traveling and happened to go to a particular restaurant and there saw an employee who was less than attentive or kind, and while she was different from us, it seemed that she didn’t feel well and I asked her about how she felt, and she shared that she didn’t feel well, and I offered to pray for her to feel better soon (And I did pray for her as we sat down). In God’s providence, the next day we ‘happened’ to return to that same restaurant (for we had planned to go elsewhere yet circumstances took us back to that same place), and this same employee was there again and seemed to be better. As we were seated she walked by and I asked about her well-being and she said she did feel better, and I told her something like, “God hears and answers prayer!” and she smiled broadly and was most attentive to our party—a totally different person than she was the day before! Now I don’t say this to brag, but to remind us that a simple act of kindness and Christian compassion may make a difference to someone that we may be tempted to “pre” judge as too different from us and not worthy of our regard, compassion, patience or kindness!
As John wrote in his 1st epistle, we are to love one another (And yes I understand the context is referring to brother and sister believers, but the principle also applies to those whom Jesus called our “neighbors”! See Luke 10:29-37) because God “first loved us”! Not because we were worthy but because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son….”!
“We love him,
because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God,
and hateth his brother,
he is a liar:
for he that loveth not his brother
whom he hath seen,
how can he love God
whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him,
That he who loveth God
love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21
Who are we “loving”? What are we “giving”? Are we only kind to those who are kind to us? Do we see the world through God’s eyes, or through our own prejudices?
So, my simple question for us today is, “Are we overcoming ‘prejudice’ or are our ‘prejudices’ overcoming our faith and the Word of God?” Are we so entrenched in pride, self, arrogance, and self-righteousness that we have missed the fact that just because we are a follower of Jesus, God doesn’t excuse our sin? And snubbing, hating and disregarding others simply because they are different or because we don’t agree with them isn’t how we ought to behave—it’s not ‘love in action’! Are we hating what/who God loves? Or does God hate what we love or what we use to excuse our behavior? Sin is sin, not matter who commits it!
“These six things doth the LORD hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look,
a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies,
and he that soweth discord among brethren.
20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment,
and forsake not the law of thy mother:
21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
22 When thou goest,
it shall lead thee;
when thou sleepest,
it shall keep thee;
and when thou awakest,
it shall talk with thee.
23 For the commandment is a lamp;
and the law is light;
and reproofs of instruction
are the way of life:” Proverbs 6:16-23
Did you notice the last two? A “false witness that speaketh lies” and “he that soweth discord among brethren” are two of the seven things that God hates because they are contrary to the nature of God; and when we “pre” judge someone without the facts, simply because we think we “know” about “their kind”—that they are “one of ‘those’ people”—we may very well be speaking lies and sowing discord. And there certainly is a lot of discord being sown with wrong motives and agendas that don’t line up with The Word of God! Often because we are practicing the first thing in God’s list—pride!
So may we remember that even those people with whom we may rightly disagree, are worthy of our kindness and compassion—maybe God sent them to us so that we could lead them to the cross—not run them off with the stick of our mean, selfish, prideful imaginings against them! And please believe me when I tell you, this message has been to me just as much as to anyone else; yet only when we yield ourselves to God’s work of love, grace and truth will we find the strength and power to take HIS message to a lost and dying world one kindness at a time, without “pre” judging those God sends our way!
“Therefore being justified by faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith
into this grace
wherein we stand,
and rejoice in hope
of the glory of God.
3 And not only so,
but we glory in tribulations also:
knowing that tribulation
4 And patience,
5 And hope maketh not ashamed;
because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us.” Romans 5:1-5
Amen and Amen!