By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Colossians 3.11, 25b
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the letter of Colossians in conjunction with this article.
Prejudice and the Christian
In everyday life, each person faces multiple situations where they must pre-assess persons and situations and operate based on pre-assumed information in order to meet the conditions of the moment. In a general description, that is a form of prejudice. Prejudice is something we all have. It is because we prejudge, meaning we pre (prior to) judge (assess) people, places, things or ideas. We prejudge in order to either 1) protect our self, communicate our thoughts, and/or defend our rationale, or 2) persuade (convert) another person to our thinking and/or defeat them in what we think is their misplaced ideas. Each person’s prejudices are largely built upon each person’s life experience and training, which means that no two people will have the same exact prejudice for anything. The difficulty for the Christian resides in removing the prejudices that work against the Good News of the Scriptures.
Prejudice is Anti-Good News
When a Christian continues thinking prejudicial thoughts and continues prejudicial actions against others, it is simply an action the Adversary uses against the promotion of the Gospel. Consider Paul’s statements in Colossians 3.11, the KJV reads, “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” From this verse, we can learn that labels have no meaning concerning the truth of the Good News.
However, the problem is that we do not operate within a culture that uses the labels found in Colossians 3.11, our society uses other labels. In some ways I think it would be beneficial to provide a list of labels, but to what end, and where would I stop in order to convey and emphasize the point of the verse? But perhaps, a list of some categorical references regarding our labels will suffice. We have racial bias and social slurs; political labels and religious marks; not to mention national labels and personal identifiers. We identify infants, tweens, teens, twenty-something’s through seniors, not to mention music and movie classifications among the many others that could be listed.
We live in and are saturated by a culture that caters to the categorization of people from market research to governmental statistics. The difficult issue is to admit that social pressure causes us to be predisposed to judge others by labels and looks. But within the church there should never be heard a labeling word because we are first, created in God’s image, and second, as believers we all belong to Christ. Prejudging others by label or thinking they look like they should fit under a label is anti-Good News.
The Good News is Anti-prejudice
Colossians 3.11 speaks specifically about certain labels, and 3.25b states “…and there is no respect of persons.” But Colossians is not alone, the New Testament has several references regarding prejudices:
- Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: – Acts 10:34
- For there is no respect of persons with God. – Romans 2:11
- And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. – Ephesians 6:9
- But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. – Colossians 3:25
- My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. – James 2:1
- And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: – I Peter 1:17
If a disciple truly desires for God to be seen through them, then the tendency of thought and speech to reflect stereotypical behavior and labels should be purged. If disciples are truly desiring to be a son of God or a daughter of God then we will allow God to reformat our language and cultural constructs so that we can be perfect like He is perfect.1
American culture is filled with many people. Americans come from all over the globe, from all seven continents: Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, South America, Africa, well except, perhaps, Antarctica. But the point is clear. Our society is filled with global people who live and work in the United States; they bring many backgrounds and experiences to our culture. These American people live in a mixture of areas, from the big city to the small town to the most rural of places. They work in factories and in cubicles; they work in planes and in trains; they are doctors, nurses, and patients. The church should be a microcosm that represents the whole of the community and, possibly, our nation.
While the New Covenant accepts different faces from various places, the New Covenant does not accept different “truths” or “practices” consider Colossians 3.11, Paul says that “Christ is all and in all.” Within the New Covenant, we (as differing people) come together under the unity of truth that allows us to exist with culture influences and differences, but unite in the worship of the one true living God, Jehovah. And we live together as the elect of God, being holy and beloved, having our bodies filled with compassion, and being forbearing of our differences and forgiving of each others transgressions.
One might ask, “Why?” The answer is profound and spoken by John the Apostle, Jesus “is the propitiation [means of appeasement] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”2 May the Lord grant us the renewal of mind necessary to welcome all His creation into the fold of the assembly that His Son gave His life to build.
- Matthew 5.48
- I John 2:2