Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:45-46
The literal definition of prejudice is to prejudge. Based on my experience with milkshakes, I can determine beforehand that a Chick-Fil-A peach milkshake will be fresh and refreshing. An okay prejudgment. But when I transfer my prejudgements with an air of snobbish superiority to a group of people, a geographic area or someone’s social status, I have crossed over into sinful prejudice. “Oh, you are not college educated, you must be intellectually inferior.” “You are rich, you must be dishonest and greedy or you are poor you must be ignorant and lazy.” My pride feeds my subtle prejudices. Pride is the patriarch of sins, only dethroned by a humble heart.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem but grew up in the small farming community of Nazareth. Nathanael did not. He was an honest man, but a man nonetheless oozing in prejudice. His thought pattern might have been, “How can someone significant–the Messiah, come from an insignificant place like Nazareth?” His cavalier comments received a compliment from Jesus, “An Israelite with no deceit.” Jesus’ non-defensive, non-violent approach to being a victim of prejudice caused His offender to confess Him as Lord, “You are the Son of God.” A civil conversation can dissolve competing views into an examination of what Christ values.
“Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor…If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right” James 2:4-6, 8
Why is prejudice so dangerous? Because of how it subtly instills itself into our subconscious, so a harmless milkshake prejudgment is confusingly equated to an ethnic prejudgment. We can say it’s the way we were raised, but an ugly upbringing reeking of prejudice needs to be elevated to an encounter with the heart of Jesus, who emptied Himself for the sake of serving all equally. Our sinful nature is predisposed to arrogant prejudice, but our life in Christ exposes a deadly, cancerous bias and heals it with grace and love. Prejudice must be confessed and repented of.
How do you diagnose prejudice in your heart? Do you jokingly jab at another group or geographic area, forgetting the pain of prejudice? Do you confuse healthy prejudgment with unhealthy prejudgment? What we can’t see in the mirror, can be revealed by looking into the face of our Lord. Additionally, ask a friend from a minority group how it feels to live every day in a majority culture. Feel their frustration, better understand their injustice. Jesus came to deliver you from the slavery of sinful prejudice. He unlocks the chains and frees you to love.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19, NKJV).
Prayer: Dear Lord, give me Your eyes of love to love like You love. Deliver me from any form of pride and prejudice in my heart, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Application: Whom can I engage in an ongoing conversation whose culture is different than mine?
Related Readings: John 4:1-42; Acts 10:1-48; Acts 15:1-21