Someone had to say it.
I understand if you want to cyber-drop kick me in the face right now. But it’s true. I’m afraid of some black people.
To be fair, I’m also afraid of some white people. Like a month ago when I was at chipotle and these 3 burly white guys with scary demon face tattoos and abs that were shooting flames through their shirts stood in front of me.
Um, let’s just say I’ve never paid so much attention to my shoes. And maybe I might have peed my pants a little when they looked at me funny. I don’t know. The jury is still out on that one. What I do know is I was scared out of my mind.
Same thing happened to me when I went back to Africa a year ago. Scared out of my socks.
“At home? Really Sammy? No way.”
Yes way. I was scared of some African folks in some not so “nice” parts of home.
Some black people. Some white people. Some Africans. Rednecks that drive big trucks with confederate flags. Dude walking towards me in the dark when I’m downtown.
Yes every one of them scares the “word-I-can’t-say-cause-I’m-a-pastor” out of me. Funny thing is, I’ve never spoken a word to any of those people. I don’t even know their names, yet they scare me.
Isn’t it amazing how we can live in fear of people we don’t know?
I mean, how’s that possible? I’ll tell you how. It’s called prejudice and we all have it.
[“The word prejudice is most often used to refer to preconceived judgments toward people or a person because of gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, nationality or other personal characteristics” (via Wikipedia)]
I know we church folks like to think only the underground KKK militant and the Neo-Nazi idiot mouthing off in chat rooms is prejudiced but we are wrong.
Prejudice is not out there, no, it’s in here.
It’s in every church, in every aisle and in the chair you’re sitting in right now.
We all have people that scare us, disgust us, annoy us and frustrate us because of preconceived notions. People we’d rather not walk on the same side of the street as. People we’d like to ignore. People we judged based on their neighborhood, clothing style, skin color, weight, social status etc.
We are all prejudiced and the sooner we start acknowledging that, the better off we are.
Hate to go Dr Phil on you but the old bald man does have a point when he says “we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.”
Can you imagine what would happen if more Christians admitted that we have prejudged people?
Better yet, imagine if we didn’t stop there? Imagine if we did what Jesus did. Imagine if we were intentional about sharing life with people who are nothing like us.
Months ago I offered a helping hand to a scary guy that lives near me.
Dude man and I have absolutely nothing in common and to be honest I wasn’t helping him because I wanted to be his friend but because God did everything short of threaten my family with a locust invasion to get me to talk to this guy.
So, I did. I forced myself to talk to him and what do you know, behind the walls of my fear was a kind dude who actually wanted to be my friend.
I’ll never forget the first time he knocked on my door.
Daddy, said my daughter. What did that scary guy want?
He wasn’t a scary guy Bebe. His name is Dave, he’s my friend and he wanted to invite me to a cook out.
A few conversations.
That’s it. That was all it took to change my perception of him. That was all it took for me to realize that far too often our prejudices say way more about our hearts than the objects of my prejudice.
A few conversations.
Look I’m not trying to oversimplify the barriers that exist between people and I’m not saying all our judgments of people are preconceived.
I do however think most of would be shocked at how much we have in common with “the others” if we took a small relational step.
I think we will be surprised when we realize that the person who’s been missing out all along was us.
A few conversations.
That’s it. That’s all I’m asking you to have with someone who scares/annoys/frustrates you. You do that and I promise you that you will be pleasantly surprised.
And here’s what else… you will be closer to Jesus than you’ve ever been. You can bank on it.
Have you ever gotten to know someone only to realize they are nothing like you thought? What do you think are some of the most common barriers or prejudices we have against people?
[photo: Roy Lister, Creative Commons]