“but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:9-11 (NKJV)
Prejudice has often been an acceptable sin within the American church culture. Stories abound of churches and Christians justifying racism and prejudice of all kinds. It’s often explained away as, just the way I was raised, or it’s just the way I feel, or if the person is a bit older their prejudice is because they are from “another generation.” Regardless of the justification, the result is always that our prejudice isn’t our fault and it isn’t that big of a deal anyway.
James has a different take on this subject. James, in his usual plainspoken way, says prejudice is a sin that makes you guilty as a transgressor. The idea being if you are prejudiced against a group of people then you have broken God’s law. Knowing that the temptation for humans would be to minimize this, James explains that the sin of prejudice is just as bad as another other sin and it has the same result. It leaves you guilty before God. Remember, God’s standard doesn’t grade on the curve. It’s a pass/fail issue. Those who have violated God’s standard against prejudice are just as guilty and condemned as they would be if they’d committed adultery or broken any other Law.
We must understand that our prejudices are sin. They aren’t character flaws. They aren’t just the way we were raised. They aren’t justifiable in any way. They are, very simply, sin. They are sin just as much as adultery, lying or stealing. The sin of prejudice has the same result as any other sin. It separates us from God and leaves us guilty in the courts of Heaven. Why is prejudice a sin?
All People Are Made In The Image Of God. When we read the Creation account in Genesis, we learn that humans are made in the image and likeness of God.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV)
In being created in the image and likeness of God, humans are set apart from the rest of creation. Humans are not created as an afterthought, nor are they created as a substitute for anyone or anything else. Humans are placed upon a pedestal set apart from the rest of creation.
As Evangelical Christians we rightly emphasize the value or sanctity of life. The sanctity of life means more than there is value in the life of an unborn child. It also means that there is value in all human life because all humans are made in the image of God. If there is value in every human life because they are made in the image and likeness of God, this will be true regardless of color, nationality, sexuality, political affiliation, or what language this human speaks. It is beyond hypocritical for us to espouse a pro-life stance while being prejudiced against someone because of their color, nationality, language, sexuality, or political affiliation. It is the sin of prejudice to value one group of people over another.
All People Are Equal In God’s Eyes. God doesn’t have the kind of partiality that humans have.
“For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:11 (NKJV)
God doesn’t love white more than blacks, Americans more that folks of other nationalities, republicans more than democrats. The divisions that our culture has created aren’t even supposed to exist in the Kingdom of God.
“and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:10-11 (NKJV)
In this passage Paul gives us three divisions of people that we often build barriers against.
Racial barriers. In the instance he pointed out, the racial barriers were Jews and Greeks. In our day the racial barriers are not so much Jews and Greeks. But white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. Paul says that in the Kingdom of God racial barriers shouldn’t exist.
Cultural barriers. Paul used the example of barbaric or uncivilized peoples. The Greeks considered anyone who could not speak Greek to be an uncivilized barbarian. They also considered anyone that was unfamiliar with the Greek culture, was from another culture, or didn’t acknowledge the superiority of the Greek culture to be an uncivilized barbarian. Does that sound familiar? Paul says that in the Kingdom of God cultural barriers should not exist.
Economic or social barriers. Paul’s example is of a slave and free person. That really isn’t the barrier in our world. But unfortunately social and economic barriers exist in the Church. But Paul says that in the Kingdom of God social and economic barriers shouldn’t exist.
These barriers aren’t supposed to exist because Jesus is what matters and not this other stuff. When Paul said, “…Christ is all, and in all…” He was saying that these barriers are artificial and don’t matter. All that matters is Jesus. We do not have the right to judge or discriminate against people based on these false divisions. It is the sin of prejudice to discriminate against a group of people based on the divisions of the world.
God Wants All People To Be Saved. One of the great truths of the Gospel message is that it is both God’s will and God’s want for all people to be saved. We will never lock eyes with someone that doesn’t matter to God.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
When we see “world” in this passage we need to interpret it as blacks and whites, democrats and republicans, English speakers and non-English speakers, Men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, Muslims and Jews, Americans and every other nationality. All of those people are what is meant by the word world. God loves all of those people, wants all of those people to be saved.
While God wants everyone to be saved, the only way they will be saved is through faith Jesus. They won’t be saved through baptism, church membership, good morals or kindness. Salvation is only found through faith in Jesus Christ. This means is that anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. This is true wither they are
Black or White
Democrat or Republican
English Speaker or Non-English Speaker
Man or Woman
Muslim or Jew
American or Any Other Nationality.
All of those people will be saved by Jesus if they believe in Jesus.
Saving the people of the world is the entire reason Jesus came. He didn’t come to condemn the world, Jesus came to save the world. Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for all the people of the world. Jesus exchanged His life for our life. Jesus willingly gave up His life that mankind might not have to die. Jesus willingly died to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire world. God doesn’t love one group of people more than another group. Jesus didn’t die for one group of people more than another group. God isn’t more willing to save one group of people more than another group. It is the sin of prejudice to discriminate against a group of people that God wants to save