Pride And Prejudice Part 3: Race Relations
On Sunday 9th July at our morning service, we finished our series Pride and Prejudice with the topic 'Race Relations'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
Today I am going to be talking about God’s perspective on race and prejudice. Race relations should be great because we are all relations; Brothers and sisters, or cousins.
There is no such thing as a pure race and scientists tell us that we come from a common ancestry. I doubt that any of us would call ourselves a racist but many of us have prejudices that we may not even recognise.
In secondary school I recognised racial prejudice when an American boy joined us for a year or two. He was really nice and not at all like other Americans who were all show offs, loud and brash! At that time; the 60’s, there was a great deal of prejudice against Americans. But Joe, altered our perceptions. Now all Americans except Joe were like that!
When I was a student, I experienced prejudice first hand when I became friends with a lad named Sohan Singh. We were walking along the road together one day when a lorry passed by and the driver wound the window down and shouted abuse at us. This shocked me. He didn’t know us. He had prejudged us. That is what prejudice is; Prejudging. Sohan was one of the nicest people I had ever met. If they only knew him, surely they wouldn’t hurl abuse. I met various other people from different ethnic groups who had trouble finding appropriate employment because of their colour or religion. I was appalled that this was true and the kind of a culture was I living in. This was the early seventies.
Have you got or ever had preconceptions about different people groups?
I think that if we are honest we all do. Then you meet one and, like Joe, they are the exception to the rule. But they are not really the exception; it is just that we haven’t taken the time to get to know them. We see them through the eyes of friendship not stereotype. Instead of seeing people as “An American” or “that Irish woman”, or a “Jew” or Muslim we see them as people. We see them as Joe or Sohan.
Sometimes the stereotypes we have are positive. For example; the Irish are friendly and the Greeks are hospitable. But I am not sure if they all are.
It may be true that different nationalities have different character traits. For example; I once heard an American say that the British are cynical and the Americans as gullible. The Australians refer to us as whinging pommes.
Many races make other races a butt of their jokes….
The Irish are stupid, the Belgians are boring the Italians are hot headed… and we won’t even talk about the Germans! They have no sense of humour; except Henning Wehn obviously. Racial Prejudice is not just about skin colour. Since the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s we have come a long way, but are in danger of going backwards.
To me it is self-evident that we should all be treated equally.
Jesus followers believe that we are all created by God in the image of God.
God loves us all and Jesus died for us all; whoever we are and wherever we are from. Race relations should be great because we are all relations; Brothers and sisters, or cousins. We may be different, but that doesn’t make us superior or inferior.
Pride in our own race can lead to prejudice towards others. How can it be a matter of Pride to be of a certain race? I happen to have been born here; it had nothing to do with me! I was born in the South. I didn’t make it happen. Being born in the South doesn’t make me superior or inferior to northerners.
Christians refer to God as our heavenly Father. We are adopted into God’s family. This trumps all nationalities. Everything we are and have we have received. It all comes from God. Even if you don’t believe that there is a God you can’t ignore the fact that you didn’t choose your race, your sexuality, your abilities, your social background or your state of health. So why do we judge each other by them? There is also evidence that we all come from common ancestry. We are all mixed up racially.
Race relations should be great because we are all relations;
Brothers and sisters, and cousins.
However I believe that the way that we treat each other should have nothing to do with race.
In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in two accounts of Jesus life we are told that thousands of people gather to hear Jesus teach about all aspects of life. He then sums up with these words from Matthew 7:12.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
For this sums up the Law and the prophets”.
To me this is all we need to know about how to treat one another.
It is often referred to as The Golden Rule. If you were a stranger in a foreign land how would you hope to be treated? If you looked a bit different how would you like to be treated? Would you like to be singled out and stereotyped? Would you think it fair that in spite of your qualifications you might find it more difficult to get a job to match your skills. Is that how you would like to be treated?
If we call ourselves Christians we should see everyone as people that God loves and sent his son Jesus to bring into his family. God loved the WORLD so much that he gave his son. When Christians are adopted into God’s family we become brothers and sisters. Those who are not Christians perhaps we should see like cousins. Are we acting like it? If we call ourselves followers of Jesus we should. Read any one of the accounts of Jesus life and you will see how he treated people of different races. He was living in a country that was occupied by the Romans and yet he treated them with love, respect and compassion. He spent time with Samaritans; the Jews most hated and despised neighbours and gave them his time and treated them with respect.
As we come to the last in this series we need to apply this Golden rule to everyone. We have looked at our attitude to disability, sexual orientation and race relations. But there are many more prejudices that we haven’t covered: Sexism, ageism, class, political party allegiance, to name just a few. Whenever we bundle up a group of people together and stereotype them we demonstrate a prejudice. Each of us has been made in the image of God. We are not defined by our ethnicity, our sexuality, our ability or any other single thing. We are all complex and loved by God and deserve to be understood and known. There is no room for pride or prejudice in the lives of Jesus followers. There is no room for pride or prejudice in God’s kingdom because there will be none in heaven.
We need to recognise the prejudices that we hold and whenever we find ourselves looking in judgement on another group we need to challenge it.
If there is someone that you have found that you have a prejudice against try to get to know them as a person not a stereotype. In all situations ask yourself; “What would Jesus attitude be? What does he expect from a follower”? Don’t get your attitude to others from newspapers, but Jesus.
Above all remember Jesus words to us all.
It would be good to learn this text and say it each morning before we face the day.
do to others what you would have them do to you,'
This sums up what Jesus is like and what he expects his followers to be like. If you are not a follower you don’t have to do this, but why not give it a try? If we all treated others in the way that we would want to be treated imagine how transformative that would be; for the people around and for us.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Do you remember a time when you have experienced first-hand any kind of racial prejudice against you, or that you have witnessed? How did this make you feel?
2. Make a list of any people group that there are prejudices against?
3. What do you think make these groups targets?
4. What people groups have, or had, you prejudged?
5. What was your judgement based on?
6. Jesus says that IN EVERYTHING we should treat others as we would like to be treated. Translate this into your everyday life. What might you do differently at work, home, school, at the shops, driving etc.?
7. What is going to be the thing that you take away from this message?
8. What do you need to do as a result of what you have heard.