I want to look at this awful word prejudice: looking at circumstances and people in a certain [pre-judging] way.
It’s not a helpful way to go through life, wearing the glasses of prejudice.
In one classic experiment, participants were asked to judge the height of people shown in photographs. People in the experiment were also told that ‘In this booklet, the men and women are actually of equal height. We have taken care to match the heights of the men and women pictured. That is, for every woman of a particular height, somewhere in the booklet there is also a man of that same height. Therefore, in order to make as accurate a height judgment as possible, try to judge each photograph as an individual case; do not rely on the person’s sex.’
A $50 cash prize was offered to whoever made the most accurate judgments of height. Despite this, participants consistently rated the men as being a few inches taller than the women.
Why do we think men are taller than women? Not always true. It’s a prejudice against women.
Don’t Judge Books By Their Covers
Dodie Gadient, a schoolteacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Travelling alone in a truck with a camper in tow, she launched out.
One afternoon, rounding a curve on 1-5 near Sacramento in rush hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck.
She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping. Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, ‘Please God, send me an angel, preferably one with mechanical experience.’
“We need to remind ourselves – to see people the way God sees them. To see the world with the eyes of Christ.”
Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long black hair, a beard, and tattoos. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.
The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk, especially when she read the words on the back of his leather jacket: “Hell’s Angels, California”. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, “Thanks so much,” and carry on a brief conversation.
Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you’re talking to.”
With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.
The Consequences of Confronting Prejudice
Chuck Swindoll, in his book Simple Faith, writes about the consequences of confronting prejudice. He writes about William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Jr and Abraham Lincoln.
“William Wilberforce stood virtually alone in England as he tried to block slave trading and set slaves free. He demonstrated true Christianity, but do you know what his enemies did in return? They slandered him; they spread every kind of false rumour about him; they said he was a brutal husband, which he was not; and some passed the word that he was secretly married to another women— another falsehood. He did what was right, but he paid dearly.
“Abraham Lincoln also took up the torch against slavery during his years as our sixteenth president. The result? He became the object of hatred in the South. Some of the stories of the treatment he received from his fellow Americans are beyond comprehension. It was prejudice that ultimately killed him.
“When Martin Luther King, Jr. began to promote his vision for nonviolent equality, many prejudiced people subjected him to incredible injustices. After King’s assassination, Dr Benjamin Mays listed some of the persecution King endured. His home had been bombed. He lived each day for years under constant death threats. He was publicly accused of being a Communist. He was falsely slandered as being insincere. He was stabbed by a member of his own race. He was jailed more than twenty times. In fact, King wrote most of his sermons from a jail cell. Yet, he was quoted as saying, ‘Love is the force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
See People as God Sees Them
Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. We read things only from that perspective. To get the true picture, we need God’s revelation. We need to see things the way God see things. We need to see people the way God sees people.
God’s scope of forgiveness extends beyond the limits of our understanding. His grace is greater than what we think or like to believe. We cannot define who is worthy of God’s grace, because all is worthy of His grace.
Be respectful of differences. You need to be able to agree to disagree. Even if you don’t see eye to eye with someone, you can respect their opinion. We are all susceptible to this problem – prejudice. We look at people with coloured glasses.
We find it hard to relate to people who differ from us. It can be cultural, racial or simply some preferences. It is based on a preconceived notion. We can’t run away from it. Anyone can be affected by it. Sometimes we can seem to see the prejudices that we have. We can see them readily in others around us.
God has to confront us with what is really going on in our thinking. He has to point out the blind spots we have. Sometimes that is not easy and takes quite a long time. That’s why we need to remind ourselves – to see people the way God sees them. To see the world with the eyes of Christ.
I read a quote from Mother Teresa: “If you judge people you have no time to love them.” I can learn something from this. We say that faith and fear cannot co-exist in our heart at the same time. I realize too that judgment and love cannot co-exist at the same time. When I am judging someone, I do not love him. When I love, chances are I am not judging him.
Let us learn from Jesus. He loves all without prejudice. It may not always be easy – but with Jesus helping us we can overcome our prejudice and judgement of others. God is the judge – not you and me.
- Chris Witts references other articles and sermons in Morning Devotions, and transcripts will at times include excerpts of other works. We attribute wherever possible, however if you’re aware of an excerpt that needs referencing, please let us know!