Though we may not be wearing orange jumpsuits, some of us are trapped in the prison of self-hatred and of a warped self-image. For others, we’re held captive by the fears of the future. And there are still others that are prisoners of our perfectionism and zeal.
We’re all “prisoners” to one degree or another.
And then there are those of us who are prisoners of suspicion, hate, and isolation. There have been people in our past that have made us feel bad or small, stupid or unacceptable because of how we look, or how we talk, or where we come from.
Then there are others who have become prisoners of our culture and upbringing. When we were little, we learned that certain people are unlovely or less valuable because they are from a certain religious denomination, or a certain part of the country or a part of the world. Or they have a different color of skin or talk in a different way.
Unconsciously, we all make snap judgments about people based on things that don’t have anything to do with who they really are.
Every religious group, culture and individual does this, even in the body of Christ. And so we get hurt, we feel isolated, and we go into relationships with an air of suspicion.
In America, many of us think that we are not prejudiced because we don’t have racist views. But have you ever intentionally or unintentionally wounded others by prejudging them? Have you ever found yourself just unconsciously moving toward people that look like you, dress like you, but not connecting with people that sound or look different than you?
I know I have.
God wants us to know there is a pain that occurs from prejudice. And He wants us to be delivered from the prison of receiving prejudice and of extending prejudice to other people.
So how do we, in our world, stop the painful cycle of prejudice?
1. We need to recognize where we came from and remember our “former condition.”
Remember what your life was like, where your destiny was headed, and the kind of person you were before Christ saved and forgave you, and came to dwell inside of you. (Ephesians 2:11-12)
2. Realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. What makes any of us acceptable and worthy is based on what Jesus has done.
There is absolutely no basis to feel superior, to judge any human being with regard to their value or worth on the basis of their race, cultural background, speech, gender, personal history, and appearance.
3. Let your walls come down.
Jesus said He destroyed the dividing wall between the Jews and Gentiles. So, we need to let our walls come down too. Examine the unbiblical ways that you tend to prejudge others.
Scripture says: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We should do the same.
4. Reconciliation in God’s family is not an option to be considered but a fact to be experienced.
We shouldn’t have the attitude of “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were this way?” Instead, we should have the attitude of: “We should act this way.”
Jesus broke down the wall and He expects every child of God, every son, and every daughter to be wall breakers – to see people the way He sees people.
If you have additional questions about this topic or issues that you’d like to explore more in depth, take a look at Chip’s series “Unstuck: Overcoming the Pain of Our Past,” “Rebuilding your Broken World” or “Overcoming Emotions that Destroy.”
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip