Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red and Yellow, Black and White (Part II)

By Taft Ayers

Prejudice is an overall matter of judgment, or lack thereof. It can be a case of prejudgment or unrighteous judgment. Each Christian must be committed to learning how to judge righteously. Each person must be committed to keeping the charge of I Timothy 5:21 which says, "I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality." In the immediate context, this text refers to the leaders of the church. In the broader of New Testament scripture, this principle must be applied to the Christian’s dealings with all men.

The individual Christian must rid themselves of prejudice by understanding the nature of God’s creation. There is no place within the scriptures that justifies judging people according to what is called "race." Christians, above all, must understand that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwelt on all the face on earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of habitation" (Acts 17:26). The individual Christian may rid themselves of racism by realizing the nature of the church that Christ died for.

Romans 12:5 says that we are one in body with Christ. I Corinthians 1:2 states that people in every place are called to be in the church of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 makes an effort to remove our focus from the flesh and to focus properly upon those things which are spiritual, the old man passing away. Galatians 3:26-28 applies the concept that there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ Jesus. Our current day translation of a passage like that would state that there is to be neither "white or black."

Everyone we see and everyone we meet is to be Jesus to us, whether they are dressed in rags, or in the most expensive designer clothes; For all are sinners in need of God’s love, mercy, kindness and salvation.

A preacher was once looking through some old church records of a Norwegian congregation which listed it’s membership as: "52 souls and 2 Swedes." In a sense, this is the kind of thing Jesus was facing in a past discussion. Jesus spoke about what is "clean" and what is "unclean." The Jews certainly thought that any foreigners were to be deemed "unclean." Here, again, Jesus shows us that there is quite a contrast between the "commands of God" and the "traditions of men" as to what is clean and unclean.

It is "from within"-- what comes "out of men’s hearts"-- that make a person "clean" or "unclean."

God does not judge people as people judge people. God looks at the inside and we often tend to look only on the outside. What does God see when He looks at the inside of us? Are we clean or unclean?

Jesus is approached by a woman whose little daughter was "possessed by an evil spirit." This woman came and fell at Jesus’ feet. "She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter." The Gospel tells us that this woman was a Greek, born in Syria Phoenicia. She was a Gentile. She was not of the Jewish race. She was not thought of as one of God’s "chosen" people. She was not a natural descendant of Abraham. The Gentiles were sometimes described as "dogs" by the Jews. This was quite an insult. We have the equivalent of this insult in our culture, the meaning of which is a female dog. Jesus says a very strange thing to this Syrophoenician woman.

He says: "First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs." Israel felt as if they were God’s children and that everyone else were dogs. Jesus, in teaching us another lesson about God and His kingdom, says what He knows the people around Him are thinking. They are thinking that this woman is a dog, and she has no right to ask for the healing of her daughter, or for anything for that matter! By making this reference, Jesus is making a distinction between the claims of the children of Israel and what His ministry is really about.

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