Racism: Part 1 - John 9


 


Introduction

 

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
        appearance.
    > Discrimination deprives a person of the right to
        have.
    > Segregation deprives a person of the right to
        belong.
    > 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.


 

I. STEREOTYPES

 

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.


 

II. PREJUDICE

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racism (continued)

B) Prejudice is Blind After Jesus healed a man who was born blind, and witnessed that man's faith, He pointedly identified the Pharisee's prejudice, "And Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may be made blind.' Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said to Him, 'Are we blind also?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, "We see." Therefore your sin remains.'" (John 9:39-41)


Seeing with your heart and seeing with your eyes are two different things. Jesus was saying here that because the Pharisees saw with their eyes and not with their hearts, they were really blind. Their prejudice blinded them to the truth and so their whole world was colored with sin. For that reason, they saw nothing clearly.


During the years of Archie Bunker running the world from his recliner, he once engaged in a debate with his neighbor about the color of Jesus' skin. Bunker's neighbor was none other than the equally opinionated but racially different George Jefferson. As they debated the issue of Jesus' color, Bunker referred to Warner Sallman's picture of Christ. He told Jefferson, "Jesus is white." Jefferson countered, "How do you know?" Bunker declared, "I saw the picture." Jefferson then diffused Archie's logic with a little twisted rationale of his own. He told his neighbor, "Maybe you saw the negative."

Whenever we look with eyes of prejudice, we would do well to remember this televised debate and recognize we don't always see as clearly as we sometimes think we do.

C) Prejudice is a Perception Problem W.C. Fields said, "I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally." That is not the goal of this message today. The goal of this message is to free you from all prejudice, but not to cause you to do so by hating everyone equally.


Prejudice is defined as "unfavorable judgment due to partiality." Likewise, prejudice is never neutral. It reacts strongly either for or against someone or something without knowing the facts. Sometimes it is confused with conviction, but, my friend, conviction is noble. There is nothing noble about prejudice.


Before reading the next article in this series, ask God to begin now searching your heart and to start the process of revelation: revealing the width, breadth, height, and depth of your prejudice, if any. And then work in cooperation with Him to begin rooting it out of your soul. He is more than willing to help.