Posts Tagged prejudice

Discrimination

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Boy, do we need to get a revelation of this! This is what I call tough love, which usually amounts to being told what we do not want to hear.

Most of us do not want to hear what we need to hear. We will even shy away from the people who are best able to guide us. It is hard to face ourselves at times. Better to hide from the truth than face those uncomfortable revelations. Well, this verse is one of those revelatory mirrors which reflects a face most of us would rather avoid. Discrimination within our ranks.

The early church leaders had a job on their hands reconciling the Jewish believers and the gentiles who were flocking to the message and person of Jesus. The Jews had lots of rules they wanted the new converts to adhere to. They definitely thought of themselves as superior to the gentiles. After all, they were the children of Abraham and those gentiles had probably never even heard of Abraham.

In this new covenant, this new dispensation, all kinds of people are treated as the beloved of God. Each person is recognized as an heir to the promises. See that this includes women. It also includes slaves and Greeks. Frankly, it includes everyone. God is not one to show partiality (Deuteronomy 10: 17, Acts 10: 34). It is easy to read this passage as told to someone else. We can sit quietly by and watch them be rebuffed. However, let’s apply this to our world. What does it mean to us today?

We are all one in Christ. That means that Episcopalians and Methodists are meant to be brothers. Lutherans and Baptists are all one in Christ. And even Catholics. Yep. It is time we got off of our high horse and begin to love one another. Whose theology is perfect? Yours? Then why are we all called to continue learning and growing? The key words here are “in Christ.” That is where we are supposed to be. It is not a goal to be attained to be a good Baptist or a good Catholic. The goal is to be “in Christ” and to help others to be in Christ too. We are supposed to lead people into a relationship with Jesus. This is not a private club, as the Jews found out. And while we are about it. God still loves the Jews. Don’t think He doesn’t. He wants them to hear and embrace the good news about Jesus, who himself was a Jew.

God does not see all of these labels that we use to categorize people. He sees hearts. He doesn’t care what you call yourself or what others call you. He is attracted to all those who love Him with an honest, sincere heart. And just in case you wondered, I don’t care either. If you love Jesus, you are alright by me. That is this ministry’s official position, that we do not love according to labels. Your denominational affiliation is between you and God. I just want you in a church that teaches you the Word and supports you. I hope you are in a church which understands today’s scripture and is doing all it can to eradicate denominational prejudice. And for that matter, that includes every other type of discrimination. All people are welcome in the house of God and in this ministry. Come all who are weary and heavy laden. Jesus wants to wrap himself around you and give you his rest. Enter into his rest. Enter into his love, regardless of your label. Check your label at the door and just be free in Christ. God loves you! Those are the important words.

Imitating Christ

Romans 15: 7

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Yesterday I shared Isaiah 41: 9 and we saw that our Father, God, accepts us and has not rejected us. Today we see from the New Testament that Jesus also accepts us. But look, Jesus also requires that we accept one another. That will sure put our judgmental and critical natures to the test. Apparently, God did not set us up in the position to be critical of our fellow human beings. Honestly, we just can’t see the things God does nor can we see the way He does. He has the ability to look at a person’s heart. We can only view their external appearance and behaviors.

You are accepted by God and by Jesus. Now you must learn to extend the grace and mercy that you have in them. Let this grace and the love of God fill you. As you receive God’s acceptance you will begin to overflow with the same merciful attitude towards others. If you find yourself critical and judgmental then make sure that you are fully receiving God’s love for yourself. When you come to understand God’s affection for you it becomes very difficult not to share it with others.

God loves you, accepts you and has not rejected you. Open your heart and arms to the rest of humanity allowing God’s love to flow from you . . . in Jesus’ name.

Acceptance

Romans 15: 7

Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

God has not called us to be separatists but rather to love one another in the unity of His great love for us all. Nor did he call us to be judges, neither of the brethren nor of the world. This is a great temptation for us all. We know the way he has called us to righteousness. We have seen in his word behaviors he has told us to stay away from so it is easy for us to say that those things are wrong and judge people who participate in them. Sometimes we go even further. We judge those who are different from us or practice their faith in a different way. We need to remind ourselves that we are called into unity with one another (Ephesians 4: 3) and that Jesus gave us only one commandment (John 13: 34). That is that we love one another as he loved us. His love was sacrificial; putting our needs before his own. When we can get that one commandment down we will not have to worry about judging others. We will receive them in love. We will accept everyone even as Christ accepted us.

Grace Does Not Discriminate

John 4: 9, 27, 40, 41

The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word.

Everyone needs a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. It will change a life forever. This is the story of one Samaritan woman’s encounter with the Lord. Not only did it change her life but many came to believe because of her testimony. This story is recorded in verses 4 – 42. I have selected a few key verses which show the unusual nature of this encounter.

Jesus was sitting at Jacob’s well while his disciples went into town to buy food. A woman of Samaria approached in order to draw water so Jesus requested a drink of water from her. She was astonished. First of all, Jews didn’t speak to Samaritans. Second she was a woman. Strike two. Given the social structure of their times this woman should have been overlooked and she should never have had a personal encounter with the Messiah. Fortunately for all of us, Jesus is not constrained by social mores. He lives in the light and in truth.

The Samaritans and the Jews had a vicious debate over where to worship. That sounds ridiculous today but they were virulent in their disagreement, so much in fact that Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. But this is not so different from today. There are cultures today that view others to be as low as dogs and wouldn’t even stoop to help them if they were in mortal peril. Even in our own country, the land of the free, we have a history of treating a group of people differently than others. Every ethnic group that has migrated here over the short history of our country has had to fight against racial prejudice. The Irish were treated horribly, the Poles, Japanese, Chinese and so on. And of course, there was the importation of Africans who did not migrate here willingly but were captured and brought here against their will. Each time the disfavored group was eventually accepted but they were replaced by another. Unfortunately, the church is sometimes the slowest group to accept integration of others. Women are still considered as subordinate actors in some congregations today, even in the face of this story and many others in the telling of Jesus’ earthly experience.

What Jesus did at the well that day was unheard of. It was against all church doctrine and wisdom. Had the Pharisees witnessed it they would have come apart at the seams. To engage with a lowly woman was bad enough but a Samaritan as well. That was heretical. Of course some people say we are all going to hell because we allow women to preach in our churches and some of us allow every type of person in our doors.

This Samaritan woman was responsible for the salvation of the men of her town because she ran back to town and preached Jesus. The men came out to him at the well and many believed. The first thing that happens when a person accepts Jesus into their hearts is a softening of the heart and outflowing generosity, so these men invited Jesus to come stay in their town. Incredibly Jesus accepted and he stayed two days. I don’t know if you can appreciate how outlandish this was but it was earth-shattering.

Throughout history there has been layer upon layer of prejudice for one reason or another. No sooner do we rise above one prejudice than we adopt another. It seems that we have a need for a disfavored group upon which we can cast our vitriol, but this is not Jesus’ way. He loved the Samaritans and he loved women. He treated everyone as a child of the Most High. He treated everyone with grace and respect, well, with one obvious exception. He didn’t care for pharisaical church leaders, but then that was only because of their actions. My guess is that he still doesn’t like Pharisees. When we withhold the love of God from any person because of some discriminatory prejudice then we have retreated from grace and when we put others under the judgment of the law we have just judged ourselves. We have condemned ourselves. Jesus gave us one commandment, to love one another as he himself loved us, and he demonstrated his own adherence to the commandment of love in his time on earth.

Grace is meant to be given freely, never to be withheld. The entrance of grace into the earth came at a high cost. To withhold it is to blemish the sacrifice of our dear Lord. Our course is simple; love everyone and let God sort out the sinners from the saints.