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How To Be A Barrier Breaker
“He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
What Is Prejudice?
Prejudice is a preconceived opinion, usually unfavorable, formed without sufficient knowledge or just grounds. It is an irrational attitude based on an overgeneralized belief and is directed toward an individual, group or race. Prejudice is the illegitimate offspring of ignorance and/or arrogance. Prejudice is a mental slant that comes from your culture and makes up your mind before you think. Prejudice is a mental blind spot that shuts you off from viewing the facts in a given situation. Prejudice is a psychological fence that keeps you from healthy friendships and confines you to your own “backyard.”
How do you treat people who are different from you? Do you buy into bias, propagate prejudice, or demean and discriminate? Do your attitudes and actions subtly reflect the sin of superiority? Prejudice leads to the belief that “they” are the problem—not “us.” These Keys for Living explain different types of prejudice as well as the factors and beliefs that contribute to this divisive issue. With God’s help, you can break down barriers, build bridges to stronger relationships, and heal from the pain of prejudice. Discover ways to see and love others as God does and understand that what connects us is stronger than what divides us.
- Prejudice is a preconceived opinion, usually unfavorable, formed without sufficient knowledge or just grounds. It is an irrational attitude based on an overgeneralized belief and is directed toward an individual, group or race.
- Prejudice is the illegitimate offspring of ignorance and/or arrogance.
- Prejudice is a mental slant that comes from your culture and makes up your mind before you think.
- Prejudice is a mental blind spot that shuts you off from viewing the facts in a given situation.
- Prejudice is a psychological fence that keeps you from healthy friendships and confines you to your own “backyard.”
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
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What Are Synonyms for Prejudice?
- Bigotry - intolerant attitudes or actions directed toward anyone or anything that differs from your own opinion
- Discrimination - a prejudicial attitude expressed in an unfavorable action or treatment directed toward a specific category of people
“Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Anger and hatred are two emotions that are often confused. Anger generally is a response to behavior, while hatred is a response to persons. Prejudice is a form of hatred focusing on the personhood rather than on the behavior of an individual.
Hatred manifested in prejudice …
- does not concern itself with what a person does, and with who the person is as a member of a particular class or group
- is characterized by an attitude of indifference toward the pain or pleasure of the targeted group or member
- desires the extinction or annihilation of the class toward which the prejudice is directed
What Are Some Categories of Prejudice?
There are four levels of identity:
- Human identity—being like all otherpeople
- Group identity—being like some other people
- Individual identity—being like no other person
- Christian identity—being like Jesus Christ (in attitude and action)
We tend to characterize people on the basis of observed differences that place them in certain classes or groups. These characterizations tend to produce unfounded, hostile attitudes toward others based on…
- personal habits
- social class
- group membership
- marital status
“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
Characteristics of Prejudice
Fearful of change
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
Causes of Prejudice
- Believing that cultural customs and traditions are sacred rather than flawed by human weaknesses
- Believing that one person must make all the adjustments in racial relations rather than that both be involved
- Believing that only certain groups of people have prejudices rather than that everyone everywhere is vulnerable to prejudice
- Believing that God’s world of people is only a larger version of your “own backyard” rather than its being inclusive of people from every race, color, language, and nation
- Believing that you can change your attitudes in your own strength rather than relying on God to work in you to empower you to develop a Christlike attitude toward others
- You may, without realizing it, attribute your own ideas, feelings, or characteristics to other people.
- You may condemn others because of regarding them as having feelings or characteristics you yourself have neither acknowledged nor resolved.
- A bad experience with one person may lead you to become prejudiced against an entire group of people.
- Stereotypes of a certain group can lead to prejudice against that entire group.
- Media reports that show a consistently negative image of a particular group may influence your opinion of that group.
- Peer pressure may persuade you to adopt a prejudice toward select individuals or groups.
- Misunderstanding the cultural values of a particular group can lead to prejudice toward that group.
- Believing that humanity evolved may lead you to believe that one race is superior to another.
The Propositions of Paul’s Pronouncement
- In Christ is the principle of equality—everyone deserves fair treatment.
- In Christ is the principle of significance—no group is inferior or superior to another.
- In Christ is the principle of respect—differences are acceptable to the extent that they do not violate the principles of the Word of God.
Help Others Move toward Healing
- Help others to pattern their emotional responses in accordance with God’s character.
- Help others to examine themselves.
- Help others to build self-esteem.
- Help others to forgive.
- Help others to repent.
“The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Pulling Up the Roots of Prejudice
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict the heart of your prejudiced friend or loved one.
- Prepare to challenge prejudice when it occurs.
- Persist in correcting false generalities made about others.
- Purpose to keep the conversation based on facts rather than on emotions.
- Point out only factual information.
- Profess the fact that you are not knowledgeable in certain areas and be willing to be vulnerable.
- Present God’s perspective on the intrinsic value of all people.
- Promote fellowship with others who are not prejudiced.
- Perceive the unmet needs that prejudicial attitudes are feeding.
- Plant the seeds of Christ’s love and His ability to meet all our needs.
The Compassion Jesus Practiced with Victims
- The leper of Matthew 8:1–3
- The centurion foreigner of Luke 7:1–10
- The tax collector of Matthew 9:9–13 and Luke 19:1–10
- The demon-possessed man of Mark 5:1–20
- The Greek woman of Mark 7:24–30
- The children of Matthew 19:13–14 and of John 4:46–53
- The Samaritan adulteress of John 4:1–42
- The paralyzed, the blind, and the dumb of Matthew 9:1–2, 27–30, 32–33
Ministry of Acceptance
- You no longer view others on the basis of your own understanding.
- You are a new person in Christ.
- You are completely accepted by God through Christ.
- You are given the ministry of extending acceptance to others.
“All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."
(1 Peter 3:8)
Biblical Theology to Prevent Prejudice
- To believe I’m finite ... just like everyone else—takes away any pretense of infallibility.
- To believe I’m fallen ... just like everyone else—allows you to make allowances for the failures of others.
- To believe I’m of value ... just like everyone else—takes away a deflated or inflated view of yourself and of others.
Have a Heart of Equality
- Express God’s perspective on the equality of all people. (Galatians 3:28)
- Quit the tendency to stereotype any persons different from yourself. (James 2:1)
- Understand the God-given worth of all human beings. (Genesis 1:27)
- Accept your personal God-given worth based on your position in Christ. (Ephesians 1:7–8)
- Learn that prejudice is a product of irrational stereotypes and emotionalism, not a result of rational reasoning. (1 John 2:9)
- Invest in others by having a servant’s heart toward everyone. (Mark 10:45)
- Turn from judging others to self-examination. (Matthew 7:4)
- Yield in obedience to the nature of Christ living within you. (2 Peter 1:3–4)
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Key Verse to Learn
“He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
Key Passage to Read
2 Corinthians 5:16–19
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