“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” – 1 John 4:20
People naturally gravitate towards those who look like them, think like them, believe like them, and so on. This isn’t always a bad thing. However, if we only surround ourselves with people who are like us, we miss opportunities to love those who may not fit into our box.
There is a story that explains this well in the Gospel of John. One day, Jesus came across a Samaritan woman at a well and asked her for a drink. She responded to Him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” The latter part of the verse helps us realize Jews did not associate with Samaritans (John 4:9).
This Samaritan woman wasn’t someone a Jewish person would usually interact with. In fact, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. Their rivalry went back over 700 years. But Jesus, by asking this Samaritan woman for a drink of water, showed His followers that every person is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
At a time when other Jews refused to interact with Samaritans, Jesus put love for God and neighbor above racist beliefs and prejudices. Jesus stepped over barriers because He believed in showing love to all people. As a result, this woman heard about the love of Jesus and invited other Samaritans to come hear Him as well (vs. 28-30).
Jesus showed us that there is no place in the heart of a believer for prejudice or racism. So, what can we do about it?
- Pray and ask God to reveal any prejudice in your heart – Confess it to God, and ask Him to replace your prejudice with love for neighbor.
- Build relationships with people who don’t look like you – Like Jesus and the Samaritan woman, have conversations with people who’ve had different life experiences from yours.
- Extend grace and forgiveness – No one is perfect, and if we want to move past prejudice, then we will have to forgive others, as well as ourselves.
- Celebrate differences with a Revelation 7:9 point of view – In a vision of heaven, John said, “After this, I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
It will be glorious, so let’s begin practicing this now.