“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28
In 1994 I had the privilege of teaching an adult Sunday School class at a church in Toronto. We were studying “Issues in Focus” and for an upcoming session I engaged the help of two of the students for an informal drama I had in mind. I gave Cathy and Nathan a simple directive. At the start of the following week’s class they were to make some low key bigoted comments. Well the next Sunday, as we were gathering for our lesson, Cathy and Nathan started telling some Newfie jokes (jokes about, and directed at, people from Newfoundland). Much to my surprise others got in on the act and began to pass derogatory comments about Newfies, Red Necks, the Irish, and others. But the piece de resistance was yet to come. Nathan was playing to the group magnificently and fell back into his chair when it unexpectedly collapsed. Nathan took it in his stride. He leapt up, kicked the chair and exclaimed, “It was probably made by a Black!” There were nods of agreement around the room.
I was flabbergasted, decided it was time to interject, and called the class to order. Once I had their full attention, I said the following: “Today we will be discussing the issue of prejudice. Cathy and Nathan were asked to make some bigoted comments. They were acting under my instructions, taking dramatic licence. But the rest of you were not. You were simply expressing what was in your heart. For prejudice is not something unique to people living in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan or South Africa, but something rooted deep within us all.”
There was a stunned silence as it dawned on the group that prejudice isn’t out there but inside. In that moment we realized how most of us are bundles of prejudice.
But Jesus wasn’t prejudiced, He wasn’t a bigot, and He wasn’t a racist. He served and ministered to all groups (cf. Matthew 20:28). He excluded no one from his circle of ministry (cf. John 4:7-26). He was open to people who were rejected by others (cf. Matthew 9:10-13). He spoke out and acted against those who showed prejudice (cf. Matthew 19:13-15). And He responded gently to those who were prejudiced against Him (cf. Matthew 13:57).
Let’s be like Him. Don’t be “down on what you are not up on” Lloyd John Ogilvie.