A Christians approach to life situations part 9

Prejudice

 

In one form or another everyone has experience prejudice and everyone has been prejudice the reason why I say this confidence is because there are kinds of different ways a person can be prejudice. First, lets define prejudice.

 

1. A partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation

 

2. An unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason

 

3. Any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

 

4. Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

 

As you can see there are many ways a person can be prejudice, but a simple way to express what it means is from a saying that I have heard all my life is, ďDonít judge a book by its cover.Ē If you do, then you are being prejudice because you have prejudged it by its appearance alone. So, anytime you prejudge something without actually knowing if your judgment is true you are being prejudice.

 

For instance, when I was growing up I wouldnít eat very many foods because if I didnít think it looked good, then I assumed it tasted bad. So, I was being prejudice against certain foods and I am sure there are some here in this room that has done this same thing.I could list a host of things from inanimate objects, insects or animals and I guarantee I can find more than one thing that you have prejudged or had prejudice against. This is why I said that everyone has been prejudice in their lives. Instead, of doing this I want to focus the remainder of this lesson on how people are prejudice of other people and God views it and how we as Christians should deal with prejudice.

 

Our first example comes from Gen. 43. Now in this chapter Joseph is 2nd in command over Egypt and when his brothers had come to Egypt to get some food because of the famine, he makes them go back and bring his younger brother Benjamin and they do. He then treats them to a meal, but they still donít know that this powerful man is their brother they sold into slavery. Now notice,

 

Genesis 43:32 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.

 

This is what you call national prejudice. The Egyptians would not eat with the Hebrews or any other persons that wasnít an Egyptian. Many people today are also prejudice against other nations. For instance, when people talk about France they usually talk about how there a bunch of cowards who love to drink wine. When people talk about Iraque they think it full of people who do not cherish life and who are willing to strap bombs to themselves and kill people in the name of Allah.

 

Since we hear these types of things about different nations, we tend prejudge people from the nation that they come from and think that they are all the same.

 

Another example of prejudice comes from the Jews of Judea and the Samaritans of Samaria. These two groups of people lived next to each other, but because of the Jews prejudice toward them they despised them and wouldnít even set foot into their land because they were taught it would make them unclean. As we have learned in Bible class the Samaritans were part Jew and part Gentile and this is why the Jews despised them so.

 

The Samaritans were not the only ones that the Jews looked down on they also were prejudice against all Gentiles. In other words, if you were not a Jew then they did not like you and you couldnít convince them otherwise.

 

Well, we have similar type of prejudice in America today. Now, this problem has improved over the years, but it not gone all the way and the reason why is because of stereotypes and because of what we were taught as we grew up. Now, I am not going to list all preconceived ideas that we have heard about different ethnic groups, but I do want to mention some of them.

 

For instance, I am part Indian. What do people think about when they think about an Indian? Well, they think about how they scalped people, how they can do a rain dance and how they cannot hold their liquor. More recently, people think about smoke shops and gambling casinos.

 

White people are sometimes viewed as be arrogant and thinking there better than everyone else. However, if a white person lives in trailer park people call the white trash and consider them to be poor, ignorant and willing to do anything for a buck.

 

Some think that people from India will either own convenient story or motel.

 

Others think that Asians are all mathematical wizards.

 

People think that African Americans or anyone with a dark skin color canít resist certain kinds of food and they believe that they will most likely commit a crime and are usually poor.

 

People think that all Jews are tightwads.

 

Finally, when people think of Mexicans they think none of them can speak English and that there probably here illegally and they think they are all willing to work for pennies on the dollar.Now there are certainly more ethic groups I could mention, but I think you get the idea. It because of these preconceived ideas that are pounded into heads is why we prejudge people based on their skin color before we know anything about them.

 

Now some people will claim that they donít have a prejudice bone in their body. But, there are many in this world that will show their prejudice in the next example.

 

Numbers 12:1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.2 So they said, "Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?" And the LORD heard it.

 

Here we find Miriam and Aaron speaking against Moses because he had married this Ethiopian or some versions say Cushite. Some believe that this is referring to Moses 1st wife Zipporah while others believe that Moses first wife died and then he took this second wife who probably one of the many strangers that came along with the children of Israel on their journey. In either case Aaron and Miriam were not happy with Moses decision and they were using his gentile wife to try and bring him down and make themselves an equal with Moses.

 

Here is where a lot of people will draw the line today. In their mind they think it is wrong to marry someone from another ethnic group. The greater the contrast in their skin color the more wrong it is thought to be. I have heard people say that they think that you should stick to your own kind. In other words, someone that looks like them and has a similar skin color. When we make statements like this and think this way we are being prejudice. Its like it doesnít matter how smart, kind or God fearing a person is, but all that matters is the color of their skin or where they are from.

 

Well, when you continue in this chapter you will see that God punishes Miriam by turning her leprosy for speaking against Moses. This should make us think twice about being prejudice in this area.

 

Now someone might say under the OT God commanded the Jews not to marry foreigners and this is true. However, He did not make this command to discriminate against a persons skin color. Instead, His reasonwas because these other nations did not believe in Him and the worshipped false Gods and He knew this would corrupt the Jews way of thinking. Besides this God did permit those who became a proselytes to become part of the Jews.

 

Esther 8:17 And in every province and city, wherever the king's command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.

 

For instance, we know that Rahab, who helped the 2 spies escape from Jericho, was a gentile and yet she ends being part of the lineage of Christ. Also Ruth who was a Moabite becomes a proselyte and becomes part of the lineage of Christ as well.

 

Another way people prejudge people is by their physical size. If they are overweight they believe that person is overeating and while that can be the case it is not always true because some people can eat the same amounts as other people do, but their body sucks every calorie and fat gram it can from the food and stores it as fat. When people look at a thin person they might think they are starving themselves, but that not always the case because some peoples bodies just pass the food right on through and some of them have to eat twice as much food that is recommend just so they can keep from getting skinner.

 

Another thing that some prejudge others on is found in,

 

James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

 

From a worldly perspective this happens all the time. The rich and the famous almost always receive preferential treatment. They get the best seats in restaurants and the best service. Companies will give them stuff for free just because they are rich and famous. If someone commits a crime against them the police will work hard to find the criminal. Amusement parks have opened up just for a celebrity while the general public is kept out.

 

Just the opposite is true with the poor. They get the worst seats and worst service. People look down on them and when they walk in a store they are watched closely because they might try and steal something. If someone commits a crime against them a lot times is becomes low priority.

 

What is sad is that happens within the church sometimes as well. If someone comes to the service and they look really nice have on brand new suite people are quick to greet them and shake their hand, but if someone comes in that has clothes that are worn out and they smell kind of funny, many times they will avoid them, but this should not be the case as James has said as Christians we are not supposed to show partiality.

 

Just because a person has money does not mean that they are good person nor does it make them better than a poor person. God certainly doesnít see any different between the poor and the rich.

 

Job 34:19 Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands.

 

Since God doesnít show them partiality neither should we. There are certainly more ways that can be mentioned that people show prejudice, but now I want show how prejudice can be harmful to you.

 

In Acts 17 Paul gained an audience with the Athenians who were always ready to hear something new. But, notice what happens in,

 

Acts 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter."33 So Paul departed from among them.

 

Paul had the attention until he mentioned the resurrection of the dead. Since the people had a preconceived idea that the resurrection was not true most of them were not willing to listen any more and they mocked him.

 

This is what prejudice can do, it cause you to close your mind to learning new things. In this case, most of the Athenians will not be saved because of the prejudice. I have run across the type of prejudice when I have tried to study with those of denominations. I donít ask them to believe me based on my opinions, but to believe what the Bible says about different topics, but because they prejudge me for being a member of the church of Christ they will not listen.

 

I remember one instance here in Lone Grove when I had done some door knocking when a lady was happy to see me and was glad that I was trying setup Bible studies and she took a worksheet I gave her and she said she would do it. Now, I didnít now this at the time but her husband is a deacon in the Baptist church. So, I was excited that I had found someone that was interested in studying the Bible and the worksheet I gave her only pointed out that the Bible is our authority and that we are under the new covenant and not the old. Well, I went back the next week to give her the second worksheet she came to the door and had frown on her face and she told me she was not interested in studying with or going through another worksheet. Now I could be wrong, but I think what happened was she told her husband that a church of Christ member gave her the worksheet and then he must of told her not to study with me any further. Now, I realize that I am making an assumption here, but itís the only thing that makes sense to me of this womanís attitude change because the Baptist would agree with everything that was on that first worksheet.

 

We have to be careful as well not to allow our prejudice to keep us from growing in Christ as we should. We have to careful that we donít take our opinions and make them into scripture. We should also not be scared to restudy some topics that we thought were true because sometimes we can be wrong and if we find that scriptures show that we are wrong then we must be willing to change.

 

Another thing we learn about prejudice is that our prejudice can influence other to be prejudice as well.

 

Galatians 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

 

Once again we can see that the prejudice between the Jews and Gentiles and what is sad is that Peter got caught up in this again. Peter was the first apostle that God used to show that both Jew and Gentile could be saved. In Acts 10 God gave Peter a vision about animals the Jews were not supposed to eat under Mosesí Law and he was told to eat but Peter said he would not. Then a voice told him ďWhat God has cleansed you must not call common." While he trying to figure this vision out some Gentiles were coming to him and the spirit tells him to go with them doubting nothing, so he and some other Jews go to Cornelius household and he begins to preach to them.

 

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

 

Peter has figured out that God doesnít show partiality between the Jew or the Gentile and then this is confirmed further when God baptizes these Gentiles with the Holy Spirit just as Peter starts preaching to them and then Peter seeing with his eyes what God has shown him he immediately commands them to be baptized and we now have the first Gentile Christians. So, you would think this even would have done away with Peterís prejudice toward the Gentiles, but he had a moment of weakness and now he wasnít eating with them when other Jews were around and even cause Barnabas to become prejudice as well. So, we have to be careful that we donít cause others to be influenced by our preconceived ideas.

 

We have also learned from Peter that God is not prejudice and does not show partiality. Not only is this taught throughout the NT it was also taught in the OT as well. For instance take a look at,

 

Deuteronomy 10:17 "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.18 "He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.19 "Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

 

So, this leads into to my last point that you and I need to consider as we think about prejudice.

 

1. Since God is our master and he doesnít show partiality then neither should we.

2. I want you to consider the word racist - A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. This is a manmade definition because the Bible does not teach us that there are different races. Instead, it teaches us that there is only 1 race the human race.

 

 

 

 

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

 

It doesnít matter what you skin color is or what language you speak, we are all made in the image of God. That is why God doesnít show partiality and that is why God doesnít look at the outer appearance, He looks at our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7).

 

3. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

This tells us that God loves everyone no matter who they are or what they may look like and Jesus died on the cross for everyone.

 

4. Since Jesus died for everyone this means that everyone can be saved that will obeyGodís plan of salvation. Please notice what Paul says about this in,

 

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 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.29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 

Paul makes it clear that when you become a child of God by having an obedient faith and you are baptized into Christ that you become adopted sons and daughters of Christ. All Christians whether they be Jew, Gentile, male or female all become one in Christ. We are now brothers and sister and we should treat each other as such no matter what a person looks like.

 

This means we must do our best not to prejudge anyone by their appearance alone. Instead, we need to take the time to get to know a person and when we do then we can know if a person is good or bad or somewhere in between, but in either case we are still told to love them.

 

5. We need to remind ourselves that if we do show partiality that it is a sin.

 

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

 

The last thing I want to share with this morning is what you and I can do to try and get other to overcome their prejudices. A great example of this is found in,

 

John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

 

At the very beginning of Jesusí ministry Philip is already being evangelistic and he invites Nathanael to come see Jesus. At first Nathanielís prejudice almost kept him from going to see Jesus because he had the preconceived idea that the people of Nazareth were no good. However, Philip encourages him to come and see.

 

This is exactly what you and I can do help other overcome their prejudice and this is by encouraging them to investigate and find out if the preconceived ideas are right or wrong. Many times they will find out that that their preconceived ideas were wrong.

 

In conclusion, we have learned that many of our preconceived ideas have come from our upbringing, society and stereotypes. We can be prejudice towards things and toward other humans. We learned that God does not show partiality and that we should not either because we are all made in his image. We leaned that we should never judge a book by its cover, but instead we should investigate and get to know a person to really find out what they are like. We also found that we can either be a good influence or a bad influence in the way that we handle prejudice. Finally we learned that being prejudice is a sin and that we should do our best to love those around us and treat them all the same.