His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.Verses 15b – 16 (NIV)
All of us at some point have some kind of prejudice. Most often it is due to ignorance about those who we see as different. Those who know our family might wonder what prejudice we have. Via adoption our six children represent ten different ethnicities or heritages. I discovered some years ago that I still had a prejudice about a particular cultural/religious group. I was actually surprised at myself.
This is how one author described prejudice: Prejudice can be pictured as a circle that separates “us” from “them.” The people inside the circle are “normal” people, who are most like us – similar skin color, ethnicity, values, abilities, language, gender identity, and so on. Because “we” inside the circle are “normal,” everyone outside the circle is “abnormal” – people different from “us” in ethnicity, abilities, and so on.
That is a good way to describe prejudice. As I write this there are many places around the world where demonstrations are being held due to prejudice being used against others simply due to the colour of their skin.
The ancient Israelites thought of themselves as normal people and everyone else as abnormal. In fact, they thought that they alone were selected to receive God’s favor. They were actually pretty smug about their special place in the world.
Through the prophet Isaiah God told them that the promised Savior was coming for all people. “I will . . . make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). One day in our future prejudice will all be gone: “… and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9; Read Revelation 7 as well).
Praise God that Jesus came to destroy the sinful distinction we make between “normal” and “abnormal” humans. He is creating a new humanity. Jesus came to put to death the hostility of prejudice and to create a new community of mutual love – no normal or abnormal people, no “us” and “them.” Just us in all our diversity. Hallelujah!
Oh Lord, teach us to revel in the wonderful diversity you have created among us. Make our love reflect your love for all the people of the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.