Read: “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 (NIV)
Reflect: My mom and dad were on their morning walk around the neighborhood. As usual, mom had her arm tucked under and around dad’s arm. As they rounded a corner, mom noticed a man walking on the same side of the sidewalk towards them. Instinctively, mom gripped and tugged dad’s arm, signaling that she wanted to cross to the other sidewalk because the man walking toward them was black. Dad recalled that the man didn’t exhibit any threatening behavior whatsoever, yet mom’s instinct was to feel unsafe and fearful. Dad gently but firmly refused mom’s request and continued forward.
What made my mom fearful? To put it bluntly, mom had an implicit racial bias informed not by previous personal experience, but grounded in the narrative she had spun in her mind based on racist portrayals of blacks she’d seen, heard, or read about. Truth be told, I am not innocent of racial bias myself. I operated much in the same way as my mom. I had sometimes wondered, “What is s/he doing here?” referring to someone who I don’t think belongs based on skin color or socio-economic class.
It’s hard for me to admit I hold such attitudes. Who wants to admit they’re racist?! Yet I know that being aware of my racial biases and confessing them opens space for Jesus to transform me. Any time I allow my own prejudices to inform the way I relate to people, I deny Jesus’ Gospel of love. How can I say that I love God when I look down on others? I can’t.
React: Take a moment to honestly assess your own biases. Ask God to reveal those to you, and pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how to move forward in his love.
Pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me.