By DANIEL MCCABE—
“For the LORD does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Star Trek episodes document the fictional voyages of the starship Enterprise through uncharted galaxies. Captain Kirk and his loyal crew often encounter very strange people, forces and creatures. One episode chronicles a drama of hate between two men who appear no different from you or me except for their uniquely two-toned faces. They have white on one side of their faces and black on the other. The twist of the story and the reason for their animosity centers around the fact that one has black on the right side and white on the left side of his face while the other has white on the right side and black on the left side of his face. This seemingly minor difference had somehow fostered irrational fears and even immoral convictions of superiority. The face of prejudice is an ugly thing.
After becoming a disciple of Jesus in John 1, Philip found his friend Nathanael and said to him, “‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”
Nathanael Bartholomew grew up in Cana, a few miles down the road from Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus. Like any two high schools in your part of the world, Cana and Nazareth often found themselves on opposite ends of the gridiron embroiled in healthy competition. Healthy rivalries make memories. Sadly, the thrill and joy of competition and the mutual respect between geographical, cultural, religious and social neighbors too often breaks down into the self-destructive venom of prejudice and racism.
Nathanael Bartholomew believed that to a man his Nazareth neighbors were good for nothing. Looking down on others is an American sport these days. Maybe you’ve suited up for that game or maybe you’ve met someone like Nathanael and it turned you off to God. But one bad Christian doesn’t make all Christians bad. Maybe a preacher hurt your feelings one time or a church mistreated you. Please don’t be prejudiced against all churches, against all preachers, against two-toned faces.
When you read on a bit in John 1, Jesus meets Nathanael for the first time. Nazareth faces off against Cana. The “no-gooder” encounters the prejudiced. No one would fault Jesus for taking on Nathanael, but what’s so amazing to me is that Jesus spoke kindly and respectfully to Nathanael just after having been slammed.
How will you treat others who mistreat you? Try what Jesus did. When others say something ugly about you, return good for evil. It may just soften their hearts.
Jesus even goes on to choose Nathanael as one of his twelve disciples. He saw potential behind the character flaw. Meeting Jesus changed Nathanael Bartholomew for the good.
You too can shed your skin of prejudice and learn love, joy and self-respect.
Further Reading: James 2:1-9
Dr. Daniel McCabe is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Spring, Texas. He is a contributing editor for The Jerusalem Connection Report. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.