February 29, 2012
I have been blessed to travel to Kenya, Uganda, and Iraq. When I preached in Kenya, I was the only white person in a church of 500! And this summer I will lead a team of 6, including two of my daughters, into Uganda. These unique mission trips have been some of the Super Bowl highlights of my life. Why is this so surprising? Because I grew up surrounded by prejudice and was a mega-bigot. Evidence of God’s power is His ability to transform my sinful attitude so that now I can actually connect with and help my African and Middle Eastern brothers and sisters overcome their prejudices and conflicts.
Yesterday, we opened up the topic of prejudice and discussed some of the causes and harmful effects of prejudicial thinking and decisions. Most of us tend to pre-judge people based on how they look or dress, what their family members are like, how they talk, stereotypes built by the media of particular social, economic or ethnic groups, and on many other superficial and erroneous characteristics.
There is danger in rejecting or misjudging someone because they are different from us. First of all, the Bible tells us that prejudice is a sin, one that blocks our ability to love others as God wants us to. We could even miss blessings from God, both in this world and in the eternal one, by rejecting strangers due to prejudice. People made this same mistake when they rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah and King. Because Jesus did not come in the way they expected a king to come, they erroneously judged Him as a liar and heretic, and they crucified Him.
We can also miss an opportunity to bless others, or to be blessed by them and God when we allow walls of prejudice, even subtle ones, to build. We may overlook an opportunity to help someone find Jesus. We ourselves may lose an opportunity to find Jesus more clearly or to know Him on a deeper level. Don’t put the other person, yourself, or especially God in a box that limits capabilities and impact.
These walls are made from our bricks of ignorance, insecurity, and lack of trust in God … lacking trust in His power and sovereignty. Allowing God into these areas will clean our prejudicial lenses, allowing us to see people as God truly sees them.
Today, ask God to help you identify the walls you have built around yourself and recognize how they interfere with your ability to see and engage with people the way God wants you to. Examine yourself and your heart. What are some of the wounds and fears that smudge your lenses as God brings different people into your life? You can begin removing those barriers between yourself and others. Ask Him to help you look on the inside and see people as He does. Only then can the love of Jesus flow freely through you to everyone He brings your way. WITHIN REACH will help you search yourself and your past to identify and heal those wounds and distortions. Life is your decision, so choose well.
O Gracious God, I do want the love of Jesus to flow freely through me to every person You place in my life. Forgive me for sometimes blocking this flow when I judge others by outward appearances. I know I have wounds and distorted lenses. Give me courage to overcome my fears and insecurities. Help me see myself through Your lenses so I don’t need to look down on others to feel important in this world. Help me clear my vision so I can see each individual as You do and respond to them with Your love. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who sees all the best in me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. James 2:8-9