The nation has been captured and divided by the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case. Whenever and however a 17- year- old boy dies, it is always a tragedy. Two parents lost a son and I could think of no greater pain. By the way, it is a pain that God understands as His Son too was killed.
Without wading into whether George Zimmerman was or wasn’t justified in his actions that night, and without wading into whether Trayvon Martin was or wasn’t at fault in anything himself; and without saying prejudice or stereotyping was or was not a factor in this particular case, here’s the reality:
Prejudice is a reality in many ways in this country, in the world and even within the church. But here is another equal reality: many people also “play the victim” and have a “victim mentality” seeing race and prejudice in everything or making race and prejudice an issue in everything. Both issues are major issues in our culture. Both create all kinds of drama and division that is of the devil and not of God.
Let’s start with prejudice. The first thing I want to say about prejudice is that prejudice is a problem and is sinful because God is not prejudiced. Scripture is very clear. Romans 2:11 says bluntly and clearly: “…God does not show favoritism.” The context of that verse is in regard to Jews and Gentiles and how God will not just accept and reward Jewish people because they are Jewish, or exclude Gentiles just because they are Gentiles. This was something the Jews continually struggled with because they were, after all, “God’s chosen people.” And that is true; God did choose them in a special way, for a special purpose. But that purpose was not to puff up their pride and make them feel superior to other people and nations! That purpose was simply to communicate through them to the world His love and His light, ultimately in the person of Jesus Christ, who died not only for the Jews, but died for all! And when God sent Peter to the house of a Roman-Gentile Centurion solider to share the Good News of the Gospel (that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead) so that whoever trusts in Him receives the forgiveness of sins, this is what Peter said once he got there (although initially he resisted, being going to the home of a Gentile was against the Jewish law and would make him “unclean”): “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35). God does not favor one group of people or “race” over another. After all, all “races” come from and can be traced back to the same ancestor: Adam!
Ephesians 6:9 also says this: “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” This means God does not favor the wealthy over the poor, or the business owners and job creators, over the common worker and employee. Social status means nothing to God. Living in a way that pleases Him regardless of our social status is what matters to God.
James 2:8-10 says: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
Prejudice is not of God and is sinful in God’s eyes. Period.
And in the church, we are not to view each other or treat each other or judge each other on the basis of race or color or gender or anything else. Because in Christ, we are all children of God: brothers and sisters; whether black, white, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, rich or poor!
Galatians 3:26-29 says to the church: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
There is no place for prejudice in the church. In fact the church is supposed to be the place and people who model true unity before a world that is divided.
And that’s because only in Jesus and because of Jesus and through Jesus is there true peace between all and do all these barriers come down. Jesus is the one who unites every true believer:
Ephesians 2:14-18 says: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them (Jew and every kind of Gentile) to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
This is what Jesus prayed for the night before He would be betrayed. John 17:20-23 records Jesus saying this: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
When believers of all different backgrounds and races walk in God’s love towards one another, it communicates to the world one simple and powerful message; the most important message of all: Jesus is truly the way! Is this not the Gospel we are to be proclaiming? The power of it is supposed to not only be heard through our lips, but seen in our lives/relationships.
Prejudice has no place in the church. It is ugly. It is sinful. It is divisive. It is arrogant.
Why do we even boast about our race or look down on other races? Did you choose or have any say into what family you would born or what race you would be? How arrogant to take pride in this! And how ridiculous to say “those are my people” and you better not say anything about “my people.” Pride and prejudice are not good combinations. We shouldn’t be into “defending” our culture but proclaiming Christ and His kingdom which is made of all kinds of people of every different background! 1 Corinthians 1:31 reminds us: “Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
But let’s also talk about another big issue in our culture and churches: a victim’s mentality. There is no denying that people have been victims of abuse and victims of prejudice and so forth. These are traumatic and often life changing experiences that alter someone’s life and perceptions. But we do not have to succumb to a victim’s mentality or believe our perceptions are “true.” Have you ever heard people use the phrase: “perception is reality?” That is utter nonsense. Perception is not reality. Reality is reality!
But there is no doubt people pull out the “victim card” to garner sympathy and power. It is also used to justify certain attitudes and behavior. But here’s the simple truth: you don’t have to live as a victim because the Bible says this in Romans 8:31-39: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I think if we’re honest, all of us to one degree or another, in different circumstances or situations, either have or do (or it could get brought out in the “right” environment) struggle at times with prejudice towards a certain group or kind of person and with a “victim’s mentality.” What delivers us from these things is the cross of Jesus Christ, (the blood of Jesus) the Sovereignty of God (God is in control of our circumstances and situations) and the love of God.
Therefore, (speaking to Christians) because of Jesus and through the blood, power and love of Jesus; let’s stop the petty prejudice that stirs up such hatred and division.
And let’s drop the victim mentality that creates such drama and makes issues out of non-issues.
Let’s show the world and the culture that the answer to prejudice and the victim mentality is Jesus Christ!
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Colossians 1:19-20 “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (Jesus) and through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Colossians 3:11 “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
Revelation 5:9-10 “And they sang a new song “You (Jesus) are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.