Am I Racist?

Am I Racist?

Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46

As a kid, I had tremendous pride in my school, which meant that I thought the Watchdogs – yes, Watchdogs – were better than everyone else. I just knew that those who lived in the next town over were buffoons. Then, as I got older and got to know those who lived in the next town over, I found that they were just like us. Isolated and insulated in a small town, it was easy to see outsiders as less than. The only cure for my ignorance, was to get to know those people. Now, my well-intentioned school pride and prejudice seems more than a little foolish.

You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but as an adult, I unfortunately still find it very natural to harbor bigotry. As the West Central Minnesota community I’ve lived in for nearly 20 years has seen the arrival of many East Africans, I’ve had to once again examine my own view of those whom I see as different. It’s not that I’m rude. I treat everyone kindly in the clinic. It’s just a subtle underlying attitude that I retain.

Most of the East Africans are also Muslim and so, I find barriers beyond just culture. In clinic recently though, one East African man told me that he appreciated my care and that he prayed that I would have a long, healthy, and happy life. I was speechless. As I mumbled something about hoping the same for him, I realized that I’ve not ever considered praying for him. There I was, a Christian, being out-loved by a Muslim. At that moment, I had to acknowledge that I still harbor racist thoughts.

In today’s passage, a man named Nathaniel, expressed the kind of natural sentiment of which I’m so often guilty. When told about “Jesus of Nazareth”, Nathaniel revealed his own prejudice. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Nathaniel’s view, of course, was transformed when he met Jesus. It’s been the same for me. The only cure for my narrow-mindedness, is to get to know those around me. It is only as I get to know them, that my attitude and views are transformed. As God has loved me, so too, must I love those around me. It’s only in choosing love, that I’m able to see the foolishness of my childish pride and racism.

2 Responses

  1. Dave Swanson says:

    I saw a Somali patient in the clinic once and commented on their practice of praying 5 times a day. Christians are called to “pray continually”. But do we do that? Or even 5 times a day?

  2. Trice says:

    Wow, what a powerful moment!

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