I often think about how in the bible, Hebrews 5, that it says Jesus was made perfect through his sufferings. I think about this because of the wonder of a perfect person, Jesus, who was perfect in all eternity before coming into this world, was made perfect. It seems to be a contradiction until I balance it with Hebrews 4 where it talks about Jesus is sympathetic with us in our weaknesses. Why? Because he lived in this world as a man. He experienced the hardships of this life.
Among the things he suffered was being a refugee because as an infant and toddler Herod was seeking to kill him. He also encountered bigotry because of where he was from, which was Nazareth. One of his own followers exhibited this when he said, “Nazareth? Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
In today’s climate of racism and bigotry towards refugees and immigrants, I wonder what Jesus would say to people who come to him to ask for help in prayer and yet have prejudice towards refugees and immigrants. Would it be a gentle rebuke or would it be something stronger such as things he said to the religious leaders?
This thought should be a source of pause for all of us who pray to Jesus whatever our denomination is whether evangelical, Lutheran, Catholic etc. Whatever branch of Christianity we come from, we are seeking to follow a person who himself lived his first years in this life as a refugee and also faced bigotry because of where he was from. If we express prejudice towards others openly or keep it hidden and subtle, this thought should stop us and hit us like a ton of bricks:
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world…..” The world meaning ALL PEOPLE. Who are we to hate people God loves?
The good news is that all sin can be forgiven. Racism and prejudice are sins but they can be forgiven and also overcome. We can overcome these sins in our hearts with the help of the person who experienced it himself- Jesus.