The Power of Prejudice

This past week we’ve had to face yet again another example of our imperfections on this planet with the shooting in Charleston.  We hear about shootings where people go out and shoot people because they’re crazy or feel they’ve been wronged and it amazes me that people think it’s a good idea to take out your bad day on someone else. But then you hear about people who still hold true to old prejudices and beliefs and it amazes me that they haven’t seen and accepted the direction we’ve moved in as a world beyond those prejudices and beliefs. With the internet and tons of tech tools we’re able to connect with anyone anywhere in the world in minutes.  We’re finally seeing that we’re all part of one big world.  And then things like this happen to remind us that not everyone is in the same boat and accepting that we’re all in this together.

As I was thinking about all this I was reminded of the story in Acts 10 and 11.  In Acts 10 Peter gets a vision from God of a sheet with unclean animals and God calls him to eat them.  To which he objects because he knows they’re not clean.  God’s response is great: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”  This strange vision came right before Peter was visited by Gentiles, people who the Israelites believe to be unclean.  Based on the dream Peter decides to go with the Gentiles, ends up doing some preaching, they accept Jesus, they were baptized by the Holy Spirit and Peter baptizes them with water.

Where the story gets even more interesting is Acts 11.  We’re familiar with the part I’ve shared, of the vision and Peter’s visit to Cornelius.  What you may not remember is that in Acts 11 when Peter gets back to his home base people immediately question his decision to be with the Gentiles; they’re really not happy that he went.  So he tells them about the dream, and the 3 men arriving and their coming to faith.  He says “And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” (v17)  The only reply Peter’s critics had at this point was praise that God worked in that way.

This month we’ve been talking about letting go. It’s not easy to let go of our prejudices and previous assumptions.  We like to be right after all.  But if we don’t let go of our prejudices we’ll never get past incidents like Charleston this week.  We’ll keep seeing them and keep grieving for more brothers, sisters, parents and friends.  So what is God challenging you to let go of this week?

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