The One Thing That Transforms Prejudice

September 9, 2019

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28

“Prejudice,” once wrote a pundit, “is a great timesaver. It enables you to form opinions without bothering to get facts.”  Indeed, most of us, being absolutely honest would have to admit that we don’t love or even like, everyone equally and we don't spend much time getting to know those we don't like.  We all have a predisposition towards loving people who love us and looking down on those who are different--whether the difference is race, religion, politics, or favorite sports team.

By definition, prejudice is "an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a face, or their supposed characteristics" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 928).

Wil Chevalier knows what it is to be on the receiving end of prejudice.  He was the last of fifteen children, born to a father who was sixty-five years of age when he was born. Wil's genetic heritage was African American, Native American, French, and Irish.  Because his complexion was a bit darker than some of his brothers and sisters, when he would board a bus, the drivers would demand that he sit in the back of the bus while some of his brother and sisters got to ride in the front.

It was no wonder that Wil grew up with hatred in his heart towards those who abused him, simply because of their prejudice.  When he was serving as a paratrooper in the Vietnam war, on two occasions Wil had close brushes with death.   When one of his brothers had passed away, Wil was yanked off a helicopter and sent home for the funeral. And the ill-fated chopper he had already boarded was shot down with everyone losing his life.

After he became a civilian, Wil was on his way to a night club one evening when he passed a parking lot full of cars.  He stopped and asked what was going on.  "A free concert," they told him.  "What do I have to lose?" he thought as he pulled into the parking lot and joined the crowd inside. It was a concert but not what he anticipated.  It was a Christian concert and the message was about Jesus Christ. He had never heard anything like that and as he listened to the music, his emotions burst forth from deep within. He cried--something that grown men, especially those who have been through tough times don't do much of.

A week later he again drove down the same street headed for the same nightclub that he didn't get to the week before. Not quite sure why, he hesitated, then stopped, then pulled into the parking lot of the concert venue.  Same song, second Saturday night.  But this time, Wil surrendered his life to Jesus Christ.

And what happened to his hatred for those who had mistreated him and abused him?  Gradually it began to dissipate.  And those feelings of anger were eventually replaced with love and compassion.  Wil is a living example of the reality that God changes lives, and when He does we change the way we think and treat each other.

Addressing the issue of prejudice which Jews had towards recently converted Gentiles in the early church, Paul said that Jesus Christ broke down the wall of hostility and prejudice and made us all one.  He told the Galatians that in Christ, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one…" (Galatians 3:28).

What's the answer to prejudice?  It isn't legislation.  “Prejudice not being funded on reason," wrote Samuel Johnson,  "cannot be removed by argument.” But there is an answer.  It's the changed heart that allows us to look at men and women who are different from God's perspective.  When Christ breaks down the walls of anger and prejudice, we can truly come together.

Resource reading:  Ephesians 2:11-22.

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