Jesus was a revolutionary teacher. His ideas shocked and frightened the people of His day. He would probably do the same to us today were He here in person. The sad truth is that the teachings of Jesus are just as revolutionary today as they were when He was here, but we have overlooked their importance. Or, we have failed to make application of them to our lives.
A man has to be revolutionary to have chosen a tax collector as one of His apostles and used a Samaritan to teach a lesson on brotherhood. Neither one of these actions would please an orthodox Jew. In fact, it could upset him to the degree that he would want to kill. You see, the Jew of that day was a highly prejudiced person. His prejudices were the result of many centuries of development, some of which were based upon being the chosen people of God.
It was inconceivable to a Jew that God would allow Samaritans and Gentiles be a part of His chosen people. These people were like dogs to the devout Jew.
But, here comes this Jesus, who was a Jew himself, hobnobbing with all kinds of people all of which the orthodox would exclude. There are tax collectors, prostitutes, the blind, lepers, the rich, the poor, the destitute, the religious, the irreligious, just anyone in fact, everyone. There was not an ounce of prejudice in the Lord.
Prejudice is an irrational attitude accompanied by hostility toward an individual, a group or a race because they are different and have certain characteristics differing from ours. Prejudice does not make for congeniality and friendliness. It produces violence and disorder.
Of all people on this earth, Christians should not be prejudiced. Yet, we find that this characteristic is very difficult to overcome and some people seem not to have tried very hard to subdue it.
When we are the recipient of prejudicial actions or attitudes or statements, we feel frustrated and many times angry because we know how unfair it is. If we feel that way, we should be able to understand how others must feel when we do something in an intolerant way towards others.
What can we do about prejudice? There are a number of answers to this question. One thing we can do is to learn to express ourselves less about how we might feel. "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry ..." (James 1:19). If we are slow to speak and think well before doing so we will find ourselves saying few prejudicial things. Thinking will help us choose the best words to say. The Proverbs say, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).
The principle set forth in the Golden Rule works well here. "Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them." None of us would want others to be prejudiced toward us nor to treat us in a prejudiced way, so we do not treat them in a prejudiced way.
Think about all of these things the next time you feel prejudiced toward someone. If we could remove prejudice our world would be a better place for us to live. Meditate upon your own prejudices for a short time and then make plans to do something constructive to remove them. -- Arthur W. Atkinson