Stereotypes or prejudices exist where relationships don't.
I just read this from my friend's blog. Her husband said this in response to her asking about the inevitable looks from others about their impending mixed race family. I loved it. It is so true. It is beautiful.
I wish I wasn't, but I have to admit that I am prejudiced. I pre-judge others all too often. I judge whether people are worthy of my kindness or grace, or rather my lack of. I don't hear their stories or listen to their hardships. I don't want to relate to them because I know that will require something from me that I am just not willing to give (rarely money). I just assume people are where they are by choice. I am reminded that we aren't the ones who choose where we are born. Yes, we have some choices, but others are out of our hands.
Income (yes, this can be out of our hands)
I could probably list so many more.
I've recently had some of my ideas of what homeless people look like adjusted. Around here, it's not the drunken older man with a beard. The average homeless person is a nine year old child. Nine. Third grade.
Do you think they have a choice in their lives to be there? I'd be willing to bet they aren't getting a lot of good modeling in which to emulate either.
My first instinct is to be angry with the parents. Unfortunately, many are unable to even know where to start to get out of their homelessness. This is often a generational issue. Unless we've been in their shoes, which most of us affluent Christians have not, we have no idea how hopeless that can be. To have people presume your deficiencies just by how you look is something that is not bound by race. Most homeless have jobs, are white, and have gotten to this point due to a medical issue, and secondly job losses (obviously different areas will have different demographics).
If we continue to snub our noses and keep our distance, there will continue to be hopelessness. It's amazing what you learn when you take down the defenses and begin to relate to people. You end up learning as much as you intend to teach, if not more.
Now some people really are where they are because of the choices they have made. I remember all the bad choices I've made and I am so thankful that the people around me didn't give up on me. I am thankful for redemption. What if we taught others what redemption looked like before we taught them what Jesus did for them? What if we changed the stereotype of hypocritical Christians by reaching out and forming relationships with people?
These are just the things that have been in my head lately. The blind spots that I didn't realize were there that have shown up. It's interesting how one statement from someone can open a can of worms for me! Thank you, Mr Neill.