Please advise me on how to study out the subject of prejudice -- especially when it may occur in the church. And most importantly, how can I guard my heart from prejudice? -- Rick Smith (Providence)
First off, let me share with you in your revulsion when prejudice takes place among God's people. Though much rarer than in the world and in worldly churches, which are typically all but segregated, prejudice and racism do rear their ugly heads occasionally even among God's people. If you want to make a serious study, you have no shortage of material in the Bible itself. For example, Jesus' first sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4) takes up the very subject! A number of NT documents deal with issues of unity based on various forms of prejudice (Acts, Galatians, and Ephesians, for example).
Let me make a few practical suggestions on how to guard your own heart from prejudice. Not all will be applicable to you, but I hope they will strike at the heart of the issue and prove to be beneficial to our reader:
* Reach out to all sorts of people, not just those of your own skin color or social class.
* Give sacrificially to meet the needs of the poor, regardless of race.
* Adopt a child from another social class or ethnic background to your own.
* Read the newspaper or a news magazine regularly, and see the destructive effects of prejudice and racism in our world.
* Make friends with people different to yourself. (What does it say about us if all our friends look the same and come from the same background?) The church is all about breaking through social barriers.
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