- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On May 5, 2019
- 201 Comments
In today’s world, everyone has an opinion on everything. I don’t know how people can hold opinions about things, most of which they know so little about. To make matters worse, having platforms to air these opinions has built some level of arrogance in many such that they feel they know better than others and close doors to learning and growth.
One quick way to form opinions about others is to rely on stereotypes, which someone called a lazy man’s way of understanding the world because they are oversimplified and overgeneralised notions or mental images about groups of people. The media help to create and perpetuate these stereotypes, many of which are negative, for example through movies. So, we just assume that fat people are ugly, beautiful and successful women are loose, pastors are enriching themselves with their congregations’ funds, etc. and we bash people along these lines especially on social media.Stereotypes limit our appreciation of the variety of human beings out there. Click To Tweet
Before you join others to mock or castigate anyone, ask yourself how much you really know about them or the issue being discussed about them. Don’t be in a hurry to chastise or pass judgment. Most times, it’s more beneficial to read, quietly observe things and listen to others than to be so opinionated.
And understand that as an ambassador of Christ, your role is to affirm and strengthen people in the salient areas of life, rather than tear them down on the basis of how you see some peripherals. This is very important because sometimes how people are stereotyped could endanger their lives as we have seen recently in Nigeria with cop arrests and shootings of guys in dreads on the suspicion that they are criminals. This is similar to racial profiling of Blacks as gangsters and Arabs as terrorists in the Western world.
That is why the Lord Jesus charges us in John 7:24 to:
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” – (KJV)
Another translation renders it this way:Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly. - John 7:24 (NLT) Click To Tweet
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was faced with stereotypes as we are. The Pharisees, elders and teachers of the law were seen as godly but the ordinary people were seen as lost and ignorant. Also, the tax collectors that served the Romans were regarded as the worst of sinners. Jesus was accused of consorting with these “sinners” but He showed through the Parable of the Pharisee and Publican (Luke 18:9-14), plus his treatment of Matthew and Zaccheus, the tax collectors (Matthew 9:9-13, Luke 19:2-10) and the “sinful” woman who anointed him with very expensive perfume (Luke 7:36-50), that God is more interested in penitent hearts than self-righteousness and that He will not reject the repentant souls because of the labels they’ve been branded with.
He went as far as warning the religious people that the tax collectors and the prostitutes were going into the kingdom of God ahead of them (Matthew 21:28-32) due to their hardheartedness and unbelief, a reminder that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”- 1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV).
And that is how He wants us to look at others, through His eyes, to see the things that really matter.
So I’d like us to do an exercise, if you will. Let us show our disapproval of some stereotypes in the comments. I will start with the examples I gave above.
***Fat people are not necessarily ugly. Body shaming is wrong. If all we see about people is their weight or stature, we are missing their essence.
***Beautiful and successful women can be chaste. Beauty attracts attention, no doubt, but not every gorgeous-looking woman is a slut. And not every successful woman slept her way to the top.
***Not every pastor is defrauding his or her members. Some churches have accounting departments that handle their finances. So there are rich pastors who did not gain their wealth by dipping their hands into their church purse or levying church members.
***Not every male in dreads is a thief or thug. Dreadlocks are in fashion. They don’t necessarily indicate drug use or violent behaviour.
Add your rebuttal of any stereotype you often encounter below and have a great new week.
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