May 10, 2017
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! During the summer of 2012, I led a team of seven, 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 to me? Because I grew up surrounded by prejudice and was a mega-bigot in my teenage years. God’s power is so clearly evident in His transformation of my sinful attitude. I can now actually connect with and help my African and Middle Eastern brothers and sisters overcome their traumas, 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 random criteria: skin and appearance, fashion, speech, behaviors, what their family members are like, stereotypes built by the media about particular social, economic or ethnic groups, and other superficial characteristics.
There is danger in rejecting or misjudging others because they are different from us. 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 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, people erroneously judged Him as a liar and heretic, and eventually crucified Him.
We can also miss opportunities to bless others, or to receive a blessing from them and God when we build walls of prejudice, even subtle ones, in our hearts. We may overlook an opportunity to help someone find Jesus. We ourselves may lose an opportunity to see Jesus more clearly or to know Him on a deeper level. Don’t put others in a box that limits their ability to impact your life or the lives of others. Keep that same open attitude towards yourself, and especially towards God.
The walls we allow in our lives are made from bricks of ignorance, insecurity, and lack of trust in God’s power and sovereignty. Allowing God into these areas will clean our prejudicial lenses, so that we can see people through loving lenses … the way God sees them.
Today, ask God to help you identify the walls you have built around yourself. Reflect on how they interfere with your ability to see and engage with people the way God desires. 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? Today, begin removing those barriers between yourself and others. Ask Him to help you look beyond the surface and see people as He does. Only then can the love of Jesus flow freely through you to everyone He brings your way. Whether you search yourself to identify and heal those wounds and distortions, or you blindly move forward and grow more dysfunctionally 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 and actions. 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 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