The recent spate of incidents that appear to be driven by racism has been disturbing.
Over the past week, we’ve read news reports of people verbally attacking others over their ethnicity and race. In the latest case, a man is being investigated after he allegedly told off another for dating a woman of a different race.
In this day and age, where interracial relationships and marriages are common in multi-racial Singapore, I find this befuddling and disturbing. How is it that we are still hearing such unkind, bigoted remarks? I wonder what lies behind such comments and attitudes?
I believe that racism, at least in part, stems from prejudice. Prejudice, as defined in the dictionary, is a negative opinion that comes about even when we have no evidence to justify it or don’t know enough to judge it reasonably. As we can see, it can result in hostility against people—both individuals and groups—or entire races and ethnicities.
I think many of us hold to some prejudices, which can lead us to pre-judge people, discriminate against them, or fit them into stereotypes. That in turn can cause us to avoid certain individuals or groups of people, or make negative comments (and jokes of poor taste) about people simply because of their race, gender, wealth, education level, or qualifications.
Prejudice, discrimination, and racism also existed in Jesus’ time. I am reminded of His conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4—an unusual meeting between people from two different races who held deep animosity against each other. The Samaritan woman must have been taken aback to see Jesus, a Jewish man, even speak to her and seek her help.
As we know, this conversation gave Jesus an opportunity to tell the Samaritan woman about himself as the Messiah. This passage is so wonderful to me, for it reinforces the truth of the much-quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Isn’t it heartening to know that God loves us regardless of our race, language, or culture? As the apostle Paul says in Romans 10:12–13: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (emphasis mine).
May our hearts be attuned to the heart of God, who loves us all and who “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Lord God of all,
help me to never forget that
You love all people,
regardless of age, gender, race, or ethnicity.
Forgive me for my prejudices,
and transform my heart to be like Yours—
a heart that loves all
and seeks to share Your love
with all whom I meet.