Saturday, January 4, 2014

Prejudice, An Ugly Thing

One of the ugliest things we will ever encounter is prejudice. It is when a person or group of persons is treated poorly due to some difference. It can be nationality, colour of skin, language, height, weight, beliefs, politics or anything else. It doesn't take much, just a simple difference between one person and another. It is ugly because it is one person or group saying they are better than another, usually due to things that no one has any control over.

Can a person decide which country they will be born in, or what colour of skin they will have? Can a person decide what language they will be raised in or what height to which they will grow? Can a person decide if they will be born male or female? It is our God who determines and it is our God who loves and cherishes everyone.

This struck me this morning because of what I came across in my Bible reading. It is not an unfamiliar passage but it stands out every time I read it:

So they set him a place by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. (Genesis 43:32)

Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in Egypt and in fact, during the famine, whatever Joseph decided became law. He was a well respected and powerful man. Yet, the prejudice was so ingrained in the Egyptians that they could not bring themselves to eat at the same table as this powerful man.

The one thing that God is prejudiced against is sin. He can't have anything to do with it and it is the one thing that prevents him from a deep fellowship with us. Yet, when Jesus came, he was often found in the presence of some of the great sinners of his society. He hung out with the drunks, prostitutes and tax collectors. When challenged about this he simply stated:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)

Jesus came because the Father's will was that all of humanity would be saved. People call the US the great melting pot but it isn't true. The great melting pot should be the Church. As Paul stated:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Prejudice is ugly wherever it is found but it is even worse when found in the midst of brothers and sisters in Jesus. Jesus came for whoever would believe in him because the Father desires everyone to be saved. The love of Christ must compel us to love and cherish everyone through whatever prejudice may linger in us. Love is a decision not a feeling. The Father decided to love us even though we were his enemies and so Jesus died for us even though we were sinners. Prejudice and hatred do not belong in the Body of Christ, among brothers and sisters. Simply put, it is wrong.

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