Caste Differences

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi says that as a student in South Africa he was interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by the reading of the Gospels, he seriously considered becoming a convert to Christianity. From what he’d read it seemed to him that the Christian faith offered real solutions to bigotry, prejudice and pride. Full of hope he went along to church one Sunday, intent on speaking with the minister and asking for instructions on how to be saved. But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused him a seat and suggested he go and worship with his own people. He left and never went back. “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said to himself, “I might as well remain a Hindu.”

In contrast, in 1983 in another church in South Africa, a remarkable demonstration of impartial love occurred. A service was underway when a tramp, reeking of sweat, alcohol, vomit, and marijuana, staggered down the central aisle and slumped to the floor in front of the pulpit. People were shocked and disgusted by the intrusion. The service leader faltered in mid-sentence, and one lady was so nauseated by the smell she immediately moved to a seat next to a window in order to get some fresh air. Others were whispering and urging the deacons to throw the man out. But before anything could be done a dignified grey-haired gentleman got up from his seat in the back pew, walked down the aisle, and sat down next to the tramp. The two remained on the floor for the duration of the service – the one immaculate in his suit and tie, the other dishevelled and drunk. After the service the older man invited the tramp for a cup of coffee. With mugs in hand they spoke about the Gospel, and before long the tramp was converted to Christ.

It’s obvious that the way we behave toward people indicates what we really believe about God. One attribute of God is His impartiality. There is no preferential treatment when God deals with us. He never shows favouritism with people and He expects His people to reflect that same impartiality (cf. Deuteronomy 10:17; James 2:1-13). Thus Christianity is about treating others the way God has treated us – with fairness and equality of privilege.

The trouble is, our natural inclination is to put one another in pigeonholes, in predetermined, stratified categories, grading by race, social status, intelligence, sporting prowess, nationality, gender, beliefs, age, ethnicity, political ideology, power, personality, wealth, and looks. Yet the type of car we drive or the type of house and neighbourhood we live in should be a non-issue. For there’s no caste system with God (cf. Galatians 3:28). In His presence all earthly distinctions are null and void (cf. Colossians 3:11). Yes, favouritism is anathema with the nature of God for He’s wholly and incorruptibly impartial. So let’s not forget; “Whoever loves God must also love his brother” 1 John 4:21.

Yes, we all have sins to overcome

You do and I do, too.

For we make mistakes quite often

With the things we say and do.

Not one of us is perfect.

But we can make progress,

With grace and mercy attempting

To make prejudice grow less.

So may we aid each other,

Impartial striving to be.

With love and understanding

From favouritism let’s flee.

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