Racism: Part 1 - John 9
Racism seems to go in cycles. There are times when we think, "Finally, we are past that!" and then some well-known somebody says something racist and everyone's feathers are ruffled all over again. I saw in the news last week where a talk show host made a comment about a quarterback of a race different from his own that stirred up a lot of talk. Politicians play the race card, perhaps more frequently than anyone.
We hear racial comments in the media, at work, at school, on the highways, in the gym, and in restaurants. Anywhere people gather there is the potential of racial slurs.
Among the most controversial among believers in recent years was related to some White House tapes that were made public on which Richard Nixon and Billy Graham in the Oval Office could be heard speaking badly about Jews. The Christian community was shocked. And most of us are quick to point the judgmental finger at those who make such comments, but how are you doing in this area; how am I doing?
Since God is colorblind and expects us to be as well, we must realize that racism is not just another black and white issue. Racism is something God takes seriously. Prejudice. Discrimination. Segregation. Racism. Our society cries out against such offenses - and it should!
> Prejudice judges a man's character by his outward
> Discrimination deprives a person of the right to
> Segregation deprives a person of the right to
> Stereotyping deprives a person of the right to be.
> Racism deprives a person of his inalienable rights.
It seems ironic that the worst differences between races are exaggerated when people are labeled "black and white." Those very terms themselves begin to polarize our thinking between two extremes, rather than emphasizing the closeness of the two. Some are intent on emphasizing the differences in people when we should instead focus on the similarities.
Stereotypes lead to Prejudice. Stereotyping is a lazy way of lumping together all of those who come from a certain class, or occupation, or race, and attributing to each individual the same characteristics of the group. Although something may generally be true of a group, it is not necessarily true of each person in the group.
1) Such stereotypes as, "Teenagers are all rebellious," "All lawyers are crooks," "All men are pigs," or "All women are temperamental" do not demonstrate carefully calculated observations. Rather they show a laziness of judgment, a blind acceptance of some generalization as being the rule when, in fact, it is not.
2) Those of us who judge according to outward appearance are not wise because we are not seeing people the way God sees them. In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Bible reads: "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
We can learn a lot from this passage. The context is referring to the time when Samuel was led of God to go to Jesse's house in Bethlehem to anoint the next king of Israel. He greeted them, announced that he was going to offer a sacrifice to the Lord, consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.
Verse 6 says, "When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before me." He had no sooner arrived than he already began judging Eliab on his outward appearance alone and all but chosen him as God's anointed. That's when God spoke to him and said, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." And aren't we glad He does.
Prejudice is a horrible thing. It affects many different areas of our lives. Next time we'll think about racial prejudice, but before we do, think with me first of all about some characteristics of prejudice in general.
A) Prejudice Is Ugly. It divides, isolates, and ostracizes people. Prejudice is the mark of an ignorant mind that perceives itself to be enlightened. Prejudice thinks it understands persons or actions before acquiring any actual first-hand knowledge, or before consulting all the facts. Prejudice has its roots in ignorance, and leads to further ignorance.