Prejudice Prevents Freedom
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
It happened at a recent conference.
The attendees were reminded of how easy it is for Anglo Christians to be disconnected from our sisters and brothers of color.
As the speakers addressed issues of racism, I found myself mentally transported back to my childhood in the ’50s; specifically to the time when my family lived in Mississippi.
The division between whites and blacks was apparent then. Segregation was the norm. Because my family was poor, we lived (on what white folks called) “the-other-side-of-the-tracks.”
Integration was still a dream. Segregation laws required me to attend the “white” school, even though it was further from my house, which separated me from my neighborhood friends.
Each day I faced the taunts of classmates. They regularly called me names unworthy of repeating; all because I lived and played with people of color.
As a child, I could not define prejudice, but I felt it. Indeed, not to the degree of what my friends of color experience daily. However, I encountered bias behavior because we lived in a black community, were poor, and were perceived to be inferior.
As much as I want to believe we’ve made progress in eliminating bigotry, intolerance, and unfairness; I’m frequently aware:
Prejudice doesn’t die quickly!
Citizens of this world have struggled with issues of intolerance since Adam and Eve. Examples of prejudice are abundant in the Bible:
• Fear encouraged Abraham to be biased toward the Egyptians (Gen.12:11-13).
• Jealousy fed Saul’s prejudice against David (1 Samuel 18:9).
• Jonah’s racist view of the Ninevites was so strong he resented God’s mercy toward them. (Jonah 4:2).
• A misconceived belief shaped Nathaniel’s bias against Nazareth that nothing of substance could come from such an insignificant place (John 1:46).
• Pharisees were prejudiced over Jesus’ view of the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-11).
• Sadducees were prejudiced against Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33).
• Threatened by Jesus’ authority, the Chief Priests held their prejudices tightly, until the end (Matthew 21:23-27).
Although discrimination is nothing new, it’s not ok. It has never been, and never will be!
Racism encourages the belief in the superiority of one race over another. Any sense of superiority over another ignores the dignity God gives to each person.
God created each of us in His image. God dearly loves us. And the love and mercy of God are not one-sided.
When we allow fear, pride, jealousy, or unwarranted beliefs to encourage discriminatory action against others, we are in direct opposition to God.
As I listened to the speakers admonishing us to be honest with ourselves, I found myself thinking: “I’m not a racist!” However, I’m also aware that racism is not only a conscious expression.
I believe that most people are not “intentionally” racist. However, our biases are often an unconscious act motivated by misconceptions, preconceived notions, and our failure to remember — and promote — the dignity of others.
We may want to deny it, but partiality lies within each of us! Being honest with our self is the first step to free us from prejudice.
If I ignore the God-given dignity in others and fail to promote their welfare, I become imprisoned by prejudice. And, living in my own “bubble,” only encourages me to ignore my own biases — and the freedom of the Gospel.
The good news of the Gospel message is it liberates all! Relinquishing our rights to judge others opens us to celebrate the God-given dignity of all humanity.
Letting go of prejudice — conscious or unconscious — brings freedom to me, and others!