[Rector]

Bigotry

 

An interesting item appeared in the news some time ago. A family company was fined $20,000 for their refusal to hire a caravan to a black couple on the grounds of race. They might have had some bad experiences in the past, but only bigotry could lead a person to believe that all blacks smash up caravans when rented to them, and all whites leave them spotless.

Yet I wonder, in the end, if it is possible to legislate against bigotry, while preserving justice. A person will protect their investment. The smart ones will get around the law to make sure that they lessen potential damage. Care, concern, consideration......, cannot be instilled in any community by the fear of punishment.

Of course, we believers are not immune to a bit of bigotry ourselves. Sometimes we can develop a sense of our own superiority. Other religions, other faiths, can be viewed as corrupt and worthless. Yet, they are no less worthless than any endeavour of humanity - of the arts, crafts, sciences, politics.... They therefore have much to commend them. Jesus would say of the Jewish leaders, that they belonged to their father the devil, but they belonged to him in the same sense as the whole of lost humanity. The Jews are not specially evil, they are just lost. And who are we? The lost who are found; the last made first by God's grace in Christ; no people who are now God's people. We who were worthless have worth only through God's grace, therefore we have no ground for boasting.

We who believe the Bible know that the human race is infected by sin. The story of the Tower of Babel describes one consequence of sin - the racial divisions of humanity. The Bible tells us that, "in Christ", those racial divisions are broken down. We are told that in heaven, all divisions will be healed, yet here they remain. Therefore, we who believe in the coming Kingdom of God must work to see those divisions removed from our own lives, from the church, and where possible, from secular society. If we believe in heaven we have to foster harmony and acceptance between the races, even though we sometimes get picked on as a result.

On this earth we will never see perfection in the bigotry department. The more we force multiculturalism and enforce racial harmony, the less we may see it. Bigotry, sinfulness, can never be overcome by legislation. What we need is a new heart.