“I’m not judgmental”! “I’m not prejudiced”! “I love everybody”! Such protestations are not uncommon for most of us. Perhaps we can make those declarations with some level of confidence! However, we must evaluate just how honest our self-appraisal actually is. If others observe us closely in various public or social settings, would they validate our claims? Perhaps they may in ideal situations or circumstances! However, let the environment or situation seem uncertain, intimidating to our comfort level or saturated with unfamiliar behaviors or customs; our prejudicial thoughts may quickly break the surface.
For the most part, I do believe that I have substantially won the battle with racial prejudice! However, it would be very unwise for me to claim total freedom and purity of heart in that realm. All it takes is a current event news story with a negative portrayal of people groups or organizations I have no affinity with or no meaningful involvement with on a regular basis, and hidden bias bubbles up toward the surface.
I believe the greatest contributor to the malaise of social prejudice is ignorance. Of course, ignorance is propagated through behavior. When one group of people feel judged or mistreated by another group, there is an inherent backlash of mistrust and dislike. Such feelings or behaviors tolerated or nurtured for an extended period eventually become engrafted into the social fiber of society.
So how do we improve the social ethic of culture and society regarding racial misunderstanding and tension? The only real solution is that we begin to do life together. I mean, really do life together. We must work side by side. We must socialize cross culturally. We must meet and engage with each other’s family and friends. We must connect with one another in significant life transitions. We have to go through hardships and pain together.
Actually, we have a great case study available to us, should we wish to engage it and thoroughly research its intricacies. It is found in the Bible and it is known specifically as the New Testament portion of Holy Scripture. Even more specifically it can be tracked closely, starting with the book of Acts and moving to the end of the Book of Revelation.
God chose a Jewish purist – a radicalized Pharisee named Saul. He transformed his life and his values completely through a personal encounter, followed by a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As a precursor to what the life and ministry of Saul who became better known by his Roman name – Paul, the Lord God started the prejudice fight and make over with a radicalized zealot named Simon Peter. These men’s stories demonstrate the life changing, culture challenging, world transforming life available to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!
A faith based relationship with Jesus Christ truly does make all things new!