"I don't have anything against them. I like them fine. They are just more comfortable in their own church where they can do things their way," said the elder of the church.
"Sure I like black people, I'm not prejudiced. I just wouldn't marry one. Think what it would do to the children - neither black nor white. They just wouldn't fit," said the Bible college student.
"I'm not prejudiced against Asians, I just don't like them," said the daughter of a preacher who often leads in worship.
Christians are sometimes so afraid of conflict that they find themselves compromising and ending up being sucked into the values of a worldly culture. Jesus said to follow him and the world will hate you, persecute you and even kill you. And yet, in the name of being "realists" we back away from even being laughed at, or scorned as being annoying. Why is it fine to support missionaries in Africa, but then be uncomfortable when a black person comes into our church? Why do we praise missionaries who labor to learn other languages and worship with different music, but we are unwilling to learn a few phrases to reach our neighbor who speaks a different language?
Here it is, folks. We believe we are being Christian by mentally assenting to the fact that God wants all people to be saved, all people are equally loved in his sight, and even are equally intelligent, capable, and able to love. But the heart of Jesus goes way beyond that.
Jesus visited the house of a tax collector and ate with him. Have you ever visited with a convicted felon, or had dinner with a sex offender? Have you even been inside the house of a black person? We make friends so quickly with those who are like us, because we "have so much in common." What did Jesus have in common with Zacheus? But he went out of his way to be intimate with him.
"They are in our country, they should learn our language!" said the staff member of a Christian College. The point has some merit. But do you have any awareness of how difficult life is for some of these people? "I couldn't get away with sneaking into their country and just living there illegally." True, but there is something much more important at stake here. Our priority is not making sure the laws of our country are maintained in the way we want, and that everything is fair to us. There are people around us who are struggling and they need Jesus! However they got here, let's give them that.
I was fourteen years old when my family went on furlough to the US from Jamaica. One sweet church lady asked me, "Do you have any friends there, or is everybody black?" I was so flabbergasted I did not know how to answer.
I'm going to be very frank here. When a white family adopts a white child, the child is normally accepted as completely as a birth child would be. But if they adopt a black child, somehow they are thought of in a different way. They are loved, accepted, and all that, but when it come to "real" family sometimes they are excluded from events like birthdays, holidays and routine get togethers. This is a crime against the child, who has lost his birth family, and then gets subtly left out of the extended adoptive family..
When my husband and I were thinking about adopting in the island in which we were living, a missionary said to us, "Adopting is the worst thing you can do to your own children. That adopted child will have all the same rights as your own, and the inheritance when you die will be equally divided. We thought about it, but we couldn't do that to our other kids." WHAT? We were childless, and my heart was just aching for a baby to love, whatever it looked like. This missionary also said, "When they grow up they will turn against you. When it comes to a choice, they will stick with their own color." All parents take a risk. Any natural born child may be handicapped, sickly, learning disabled, or rebellious. The job of a parent is to love, teach and care for that child anyway.
Christians, we need to consciously make an effort to include people of other races and languages, and religions, and offer Jesus' love to all. This means that we don't just do what comes naturally, because what comes naturally is to stick to our own kind. Talk to the black lady in the supermarket, smile and greet the Hispanic road worker. Visit those of different races, invite them into your home, go to lunch together. And if you have family members of a different race include them in all family functions.
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