It is easy to profile our bias. Everyone has that sense of unreal fear of people. For the longest time, I had a problem with rich people. They always looked like a million bucks, smelled great, and drove my kind of cars. They always made me feel uncomfortable … it wasn’t them, it was me. I had to deal with this feeling of inadequacy because it wasn’t real.
So many of our biases are not real. Yes, there is evil everywhere … even in the church. All people are broken, and that brokenness will always profile people and situations. The real issue at stake here is trust because we don’t trust that people will follow through with promises. Our experience with dishonesty is what brings our bias into focus. I know my personal bias is all based upon my past experiences. Someone betrays your trust and now you are biased against that person.
For example, I know people who have had a bad experience with a minister and so from that point on they feel that all ministers cannot be trusted. We do the same thing with race, with politics, and with religion. A bad experience with a church will often become the bias that assumes all churches can’t be trusted. We become biased against that denomination or church which can become a stumbling block to attending church altogether. It comes down to trust. Putting trust in the integrity of people, ideas, or promises can really sidetrack trust. The reality is that every person, every idea, and every promise will disappoint you at some point. I naturally trust people, but I have to continually address my disappointments in order for my bias not to set the precedent in my relationships. Recently, I read a sad story about an African American man who was profiled by the police in his town. It was a typical case of by virtue of him being black … it meant he was probably guilty of something and was mistaken for another black man who had committed a crime. This bias is as irrational as my bias against rich people. This is what has to be confronted and corrected if we are going to overcome our biases.
The question I want to ask is, "Is my bias sinful?” I would say yes. Remember bias means: “a particular tendency or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned.”
If our bias is what informs us about people, then God’s Word is overshadowed by it. God tells us to be servants, but if our bias prevents us from serving people, we are not fulfilling God’s call to servanthood:
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
If my bias forms a mistrust that causes me to avoid serving, then my bias has become sinful. Confronting my bias is a course correction in my discipleship process. For example, there is bias today against millennials because many of them exhibit attitudes of entitlement. If that bias interferes with our relationship with the younger generation, then we have lost the opportunity to present them with the message of the Gospel, which accents how living for others is more important than living for yourself. That rings true for race, for politics, and for other religions. Again, in confronting my own bias, I discovered I have had a bias against Islam, primarily because of the deception Islam brings into the world. My other bias was against the political left because of what I saw as their hatred for America and their love for socialism. In both instances, I was convicted that my bias shouldn’t influence my concern for their eternal destination. Nothing anyone does or believes should prevent me from being the witness for Christ I am called to be, and no bias should keep that witness from happening.
This is why we need to profile our biases and address them in light of the Gospel. Freeing ourselves from our biases will open up opportunities for God to work in us and through us to achieve His will on earth. The prophet Jonah is a great example of what bias does to a person who allows those feelings to propel him to run from God and the calling that was upon his life. As Christians, we are called by God to be involved where there is difficulty, and often, we, like Jonah, run the opposite way. Let us never be accused of using our bias as an excuse to avoid an assignment or opportunity to be a witness for Him.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler