Do you remember the children’s game Guess Who? Each player tries to guess the correct person out of 20 different people: various hairstyles, styles and of course different races. My three-year old son loves this game. But what’s interesting is that race is not his first identifying characteristic. Often he looks first at facial hair, earrings or glasses.
Just glance at the news recently and you’ll see headlines depicting the tensions surrounding race and diversity in our country. Clearly in the real life game of Guess Who?, race is often a primary identifier. And while not inherently wrong, this focus on race can lead to some serious problems when combined with our sin nature.
Racism is a prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed at someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. In other words – racism is rooted in pride. Pride was the first sin. Just look at Adam and Eve. Thinking they knew better than God led to their downfall. It was the same with the Devil who felt he was greater than God. Pride is man’s worst sin.
The danger of pride is how easily it can creep into our lives and without warning lead to hate, prejudice and even racism. The Bible says in Romans that we all have sinned; we’ve all messed up. As a result, we all harbor certain prejudices. For some it may be very subtle or silly– think about the passionate sports allegiances we have in our country. For others, prejudices may run much deeper: perhaps negative beliefs and opinions regarding other people and races.
So, how do we respond? It’s so easy to focus on the blatant racism we see on the news. But the first step is asking God to identify the pride and prejudices, big or small, in our own hearts. Before we begin looking at the bigger issues, we need to first look at ourselves. And where we fall short, confess it to God. Ask God to cleanse your heart of all pride and prejudice.
Adapted from a sermon by Steven Bonham, Teaching Pastor at JFBC