This is not a post I want to write. Quite frankly, I don’t even know how to write it. But so heavy is it weighing on me that I had to get out of bed last night to scribble down these thoughts.
I write periodically about a book I am slogging through, not because it is not riveting and beautifully written, but because it is challenging what I think about my faith and how I act on it. Last night, I tackled some more of it. Rich Stearns, the author, uses quotations to open each chapter, and these two grabbed my heart:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.” “Well, why don’t you ask Him?” “Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.” Anonymous.
As I chewed over the words in my head I kept returning to a grave concern I have: How will my children see the world? As my children grow, will they be able to retain their now current ability to love anyone, regardless of their color, gender, race, religion, or social standing, with reckless abandon?
When I was young, I lived in Los Angeles with my father and mother, a minister and a daughter of a minister. I honestly had no concept of prejudice. All I knew was, “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” My father and mother worked with everyone – from a homeless minority man to a mentally ill young woman, old and young, black/brown/white, poor and rich, they were all the same. I wasn’t even introduced to the concept of prejudice until much later in life.
Cut to the present day. I know prejudice now. I see it both up close and personal and on a global scale. And it terrifies me.
I can not reiterate how sick I was last night thinking about it. How deeply held prejudices are shredding the fabric of this and many other nations. Assumptions made about a entire class of people because of the actions of an individual or a group. Black and Mexican, Muslim and Jew, Poor and Disabled. Blindingly distorted perceptions that must make God shudder.
This comes across as harsh. And everyone, including me, is guilty of some form of prejudice. It’s human nature. But it is sinful human nature and not something God sanctions or condones. Prejudice is not just about race either, it can be about any category of people. As a new freshman in college, I was pretty judgemental. I had lived a very sheltered life and I suddenly encountered people who did not look or act like me (thank Heavens!) and who I deemed were “unGodly.” Oh, the ignorance of youth. I passed judgment on a certain segment of guys in my college and I walked by their table with my nose held high in the air because clearly I was a better person than these heathens. Lord help me. Well, a few years later, I started doing some pretty nutty things. I was running from God and experimenting with some bad behaviour. But there will always be a part of that time I do not regret because it did two things: (1) it allowed me to become friends with people I would never have encountered had I remained the sheltered judgemental version of myself, and (2) it allowed me to see that we are all, at the very deepest level, the same. I was at a party one evening and one of the guys who I used to pass with such judgment walked up to me. He said, “I’m so glad to see you here. You’re so much fun. You used to just walk by our table and never even look or talk to us. But I’m glad I got to know you.” There’s a ton of things I could expound upon with that simple statement, but for purposes of this post what I’d like to highlight is how totally off base and out of whack my prejudice and judgment was. Here was a really decent person, he did turn out to be a super kind human being (and WOW – can we say what forgiveness he showed?), that I had made assumptions about that colored my perception of him and all around him. How sinful. How shameful.
Prejudice is judgment. Judgment that is based on anger or fear or lack of knowledge or bad experiences. We are called not to judge others but to love others. Prejudice is so destructive. Not only can it destroy you but it destroys those with impressionable minds around you and it impedes our ability to make progress in our world.
It is my prayer today that any prejudice that exists in my heart would be stripped away. It is my prayer today that any prejudice that exists in the hearts of those around me and my children would be stripped away. It is my prayer today that my children will always love my friend’s black abused disabled foster daughter with the same reckless abandon they do now. Please God, guard their hearts.
Matthew 7 – Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
I John 4 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us…We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.