President Barack Obama, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, and Police Sgt. James Crowley, get together tomorrow afternoon for a beer at the White House (most likely sitting around the picnic table outside the Oval Office) to converse about the highly publicized and scrutinized event that’s consumed their lives in recent days. The issue is prejudice, one that nobody likes to talk about. It’s the elephant in the room.
In the quest to bridge the racial divide, the claim of prejudice doesn’t reside with one race. Call it cultural bias or ethnic heritage, but prejudice is demonstrated depending on your point of reference. The color of skin is still practiced as a means of preference, choosing sides, or casting judgment. If we were really honest, regardless of your ethnicity, most everyone is at least a little bit prejudice.
In real life, this ought not be. We should not be defined by the color of our skin, but by the One who redeemed us. We should define people as souls and not by the color of their pigmentation. We ought not to cast judgment because of the color of one’s skin, but on the consistencies or inconsistencies of one’s actions and life. While I think the events that surround this news story were blown way out of proportion to the real news of the day, this story serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go in bridging the racial divide in the many communities of our country.
We must rise above our prejudicial judgments. We need to utilize Scripture and apply its wisdom to our practice. Here are just a few thoughts. Whatever you want for others to do to you, do also to them. This is the ethic of reciprocity found in Matthew 7:12. Do you want to be judged by the color of your skin, or by the integrity of your life? Treating other people as we want to be treated should be our goal. Its action necessitates a constant reminder. If God shows no partiality, let our lives reflect God’s standard. God is not a respecter of persons; we ought not to be either. It’s a habit to be cultivated through genuine time with our Father. We are called to love one another, too. Personal superficial categorizations such as skin color demonstrate an inability to love. If God can love us in spite of our sin (which is a HUGE thing), shouldn’t we be able to love one another in spite of our pigmentation. We are called to serve one another. Service is born out of humility and not detrimental prejudice.
I think the answer will take more than sharing a beer around a picnic table (actually I’d prefer a Tall Soy Latte at Starbucks). It’s going to be an exercise to change the core beliefs of most people. Let us bridge the racial divide with the love of Christ as our foundation. That’s were it will begin and it’s something the church must not only believe but demonstrate in her actions.