By William R. Cunningham
It amazes me how ridiculous prejudice is. I am a black man and I am amazed how sometimes a Caucasian perceives me based on their actions that I observe. Of course sometimes these gestures may not have anything to do with a prejudice of black people on their part but I'm sure some of these observations are truly a black people prejudice of the Caucasian. When we think of the word prejudice it is common to think of the prejudices of race such as the prejudice of black people by white people. I use the terms black and white to distinguish the different obvious races. We all know that the skin color is not black or white respectively.
There are a many more prejudices besides race. We have prejudices of dress. If you see someone who is dressed a certain way then you are most likely going to pass judgment on that person even though you know nothing about him or her. Prejudices exist between sexes, nationalities, groups, religious affiliations, church affiliations, educational levels, and the list can go on.
You would think that the Christian church would be a true melting pot (as America is so labeled). However, the Christian church is one of the most segregated and prejudice organizations on the planet. There is the white church and the black church. There is the Holiness church and the Baptist church. These in themselves are not really the problem. The problem exists when one church ridicules another church because the worship differently for example. On group ridicules the other because they don't baptize in the name of the Father, son and Holy Ghost. On the other hand, one group ridicules another because they baptize in the name of Jesus. These would be really humorous if they were not so silly. These are severe prejudice within the Christian organization.
So what is prejudice and why does it exist? Of course some will blame it on the Devil. They may say that the Devil causes people to be prejudice. I believe it is much more than that. The prejudice on this earth is due to the human spirit. It is just that simple. It is simply a manifestation of the fallen state of man. We find reason to harm someone or another group so that we can exalt ourselves. Sometimes we ridicule another group just because we were taught to do so.
In this lesson we are going to look at the prejudices of man and see what God perhaps really intended. I hope that after going through this lesson that you will realize how ridiculous prejudice really is. I pray that any prejudices that you may have against any one or any group will be evaluated and eliminated because prejudice is unfounded, unfair, unreal, malicious, and most of all ungodly.
What is prejudice? The Webster's Dictionary defines prejudice (in this context) as follows.
The word prejudice basically we have judged without any evidence. What if you were arrested, tried, and sentenced to fifteen years in prison just because you wear black pants so you must be guilty of a crime. This presupposes that black pants wearing people are criminals and since you are wearing black pants then you must have committed a crime. I know this example is quite simplistic but the principle is the same as real prejudice today. A judgment is made based on the fact that a person has a particular skin color, comes from a particular region in the world, or has a particular level of education. Prejudice, by definition, is unfounded and very unjust.
Where does prejudices come from? Is this something that God instituted that has been perverted over the years? Let's take a look at the creation story to get a clue as to what God has to do with prejudice.
The first thing that we notice is that God created man in his image. He created the male and female man in his image and like himself. First let me define the word "man" in this scripture to refute another type of prejudice-prejudice of the sexes. The word man is a Hebrew word that means ruddy, that is, a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.). It identifies a human being. The word Adam is not the name of a person. For example, I am a male human being and I am called William. However, I am still a human, that is, I am an "Adam" (pronounced aw-dawm). The word Adam in Genesis is not the name of a man; rather, it identifies man or the human race. This is why the Bible says that God created them male and female.
Technically there was a male Adam and a female Adam. Another way of stating this is that there was a male man (human being) and a female man (human being). The Bible tells us that God gave man (human beings) dominion over the earth (as opposed to over each other). The first couple was the standard for the marriage relationship.
Note that The Bible doesn't say that humans were a particular race or color. The only thing that we know is that they were in the image of God. Regarding prejudices, we know that God is not prejudice. Any judgment that God makes is fair and righteous (see Romans 2:5 and 2 Thessalonians 1:5). The source of prejudice is therefore NOT God!
The Heart of man
Prejudice is usually accompanied by malice, contempt for, or ill feelings towards someone or a group. Where does this come from? You would reason that an adult would dislike someone because he or she had a reason to and not simply because of a difference. The heart of man is basically evil. We know that mankind as well as the earth was cursed because of what the original man did. He sinned against God in an act of defiant disobedience. We are therefore all subjected to the sinful nature that the original man planted for us. The Bible suggests that we are all born with this sin nature. Review Psalm 51:5 and Romans 5:12.
The corrupt heart fuels, among other things, prejudices. We are prejudice against someone because they are of a race that we are prejudice against. We are prejudice against a particular person because they fall within an educational level that we are prejudice against. We are corrupted, which is one reason why we so desperately need to be delivered by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We need to have a heart of love that demonstrates the real Christian faith and not the Churchianity that so many professed Christian practice.
Consider the following verse of scripture.
At some point in time man developed a wicked heart. The original sin is believed to be the starting point of the corrupt heart of man. Everything that humans as a whole thought of was evil.
Basically, the source of our prejudice is our on self. We defy God to be prejudice (Christians that is) because prejudice is not the image of God nor is it like Him. We are prejudice because of our fallen state and the corrupt mind and heart that we have.
Our judgments should be true and not based on "nothing." If I decide that you are suspicious, then it should be that your actions are perceived suspicious to me and not because you are simply dressed a certain way.
Consider the following verse of scripture.
This scripture depicts a person judging someone else for a small matter and at the same time he has an enormous problem himself that he should deal with first. Also notice that this enormous problem adversely affects his judgment on the other person. This scripture also suggests that we will be judged in the same way that we are judged. It also suggests that we should not practice judging others. If we are prejudice then we will reap prejudice from others. This is the seed principle of the Kingdom of God. Don't judge and most of all don't judge falsely.
The basic problem with prejudice is that of unjust judgment. Prejudice, as I said earlier, means that you have prejudged someone without any reasonable evidence. Your judgment is based on a particular characteristic of that person or group and has nothing to do with real evidence or reason. A corrupt heart therefore breeds a corrupt mind. We don't think straight and this manifests itself in many instances as a form of prejudice.
The Forms of Prejudice
What forms does prejudice take? Let me list some and perhaps open your eyes.
The list could go on and on but I think you get the point. Some people have married someone based on their prejudices. They prejudged their mate without any evidence or the use of reason. Some people may have turned someone away because they didn't fit the "in crowd" profile. Perhaps many great friendships were never developed because of this type of prejudice.
What type of prejudice do you practice? When was the last time you teased someone or ridiculed someone because of the car he or she drives? When was the last time you spoke evil about someone on your job because they don't party the way you do? When was the last time you stuck your nose to the sky when a particular person approached who does not in your mind, fit in? When was the last time you were rude to someone because they have a different skin color or nationality then you? When was the last time you assumed that a person couldn't do something because of their sex?
Ladies. When was the last time you pre-acted because you assumed that your male companion (boyfriend, husband, friend) wouldn't understand what you were going through because-He is a man? Gentlemen. When was the last time you pre-acted because you assumed that your female companion (girlfriend, wife, friend) wouldn't understand what you were going through because-She is a women? I could go on with these types of questions but I'm sure that you get the point. Instead of reacting or making decisions based on evidence and information, we prejudge someone and therefore pre-act (act prior to any reason to do so) and thus implement prejudice.
Prejudice is a lot more than a white and black thing or an oriental and American thing. It is a corrupt heart thing and a godless thing. Prejudice destroys so much and yet we are too prejudice or corrupt in our thinking and therefore perception that we just don't see it. Beware. Prejudices come in many shapes and sizes. It is manifested in various ways and takes on many forms. Evaluate yourself and see if you are living a prejudice life. If so then begin the transformation of the godly way-the way of truth.
Learn to see things as they really are and not according to your presuppositions and ignorance. Don't live a life of judging other because it doesn't accomplish anything. We all have shortcomings and we all are different even within the same race or religious affiliations. Learn to deal with people as people and love them as God does. Act upon what people do and who they really are and not upon your presuppositions of the race that they happen to belong to. Live a life of love.
Don't ostracize someone because they seem to be "smarter" then you (the geek for example). Talk to that person and you will find that they are in many ways just like you. The most "geeky" person on the planet is still just another human being. He or she has feelings, dreams, desires, and pains just like you. They may perceive things differently then you but that is no reason to presuppose their nature. Talk to the person that doesn't appear like a fashion model and you will find that he or she is in many ways just like you. They have pains, dreams, desires, and they just want to be appreciated and accepted just like you.
Talk to the Christian that doesn't attend the same type of church that you do. Don't judge them. Just talk to them about stuff. You don't have to try to proselytize (try to convert) them to your church. Sometimes it isn't even the time to try to preach the gospel to someone. Just talk to people. Your life alone can be the greatest ministry that you have.
I don't judge the Buddhists. I don't judge the Muslims. I don't judge the Jehovah's Witnesses. I talk to them. I don't assume that anyone who says he or she is a Buddhist is a certain way. I don't assume that all Muslims are a certain way. I talk to them. You will be amazed what can happen if you put your prejudices aside and just talk to people. Just deal with people where they are and according to who they are. However, in order to do this you will have to learn where they are and who they are. This is done by a standard form of communications-talking to them.
Learn to love people. Learn to deal with people and not presuppositions that fuel your prejudice. Learn to see people as they are whether they are Muslim, Buddhist, Jehovah's Witness, Holiness, Baptist, Amish, Mennonite, white, black, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, gay, lesbian, or whatever. We all need Jesus Christ. We all need to be delivered from the sin that so firmly holds us. We all need a savior. Christ cannot be manifested in someone's life if we are busy passing judgment. Why would anyone want to give us the time of day to preach about Jesus when the perception we give of Him is judgmental and conceit?
The antidote for the poison of prejudice is the love of God. The Bible says,
Salvation is available to everyone whether you call yourself Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Japanese, Hispanic, Italian, Roman, Black, White, Indian, etc. We all need to be delivered and Christ is that way to deliverance, the salvation of the LORD.
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