Excerpted from The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus with permission of Broadman & Holman.
One of God's most redemptive tools for dealing with prejudice is appointing His guilty child to get to know a person from the group she or he has judged. I was reared in one denomination and had very few, if any, relationships in my young life with anyone outside that denomination. Much prejudice evolves from pure ignorance, and I grew up judging some groups of people that I simply didn't understand. God wasn't about to let me stay in my bubble because He intended to develop in me a heart for the entire body of Christ. His redemptive way of accomplishing His goal was to place me in the position of getting to know others who practiced their Christian faith in ways that differed from mine.
The most obvious work God did in my life involved a woman from one of those churches that my old church would have considered maniacal and unsound. We didn't make our judgment from firsthand knowledge, of course. The church simply got dumped into one huge category.
I was in my twenties and "accidentally" developed a friendship with her before I knew where she went to church. I fell in love with her heart for God. She had such a love for His Word, and we boasted in Him often and developed a deep friendship. When I found out her denomination, I was stunned. She wasn't crazy. She wasn't a maniac. She wasn't unsound. When my other friends would make fun of people from that church, I couldn't bring myself to join in anymore. The jokes weren't funny. I learned a very important lesson I hope never to forget. Do we even know the people personally whom we stereotype and judge? Perhaps the better question is, Would we be willing to get to know someone and take the chance of God changing our prejudicial minds? .....
I want to say something that sounds simple, but it is so profound to me right at this moment: How I praise God that we-sinful, selfish, ignorant mortals-can change. If one keeps walking with Christ, he can't stay the same. We can cease cooperating, but we'll have to cease walking close to Jesus to do it. We can fake the walk but only for so long. If we truly pursue intimacy with Christ, change will happen. Praise God, it will happen. Beloved, I want to ask you a question as I ask myself the same. What is a way God has dramatically changed your attitude toward a target of your own personal prejudice? If you don't have an answer to that, I'd encourage you to seriously consider your heart.
I'd like to conclude with a look at a fascinating account in Mark 8:22-26. This account is one of the only times in Scripture we see an incomplete healing that necessitated a second work of Christ. Jesus encountered a blind man. First he spat on and touched the man's eyes. The man then said he could see but that people looked to him like trees walking around. When Jesus again touched the man's eyes, the healing was completed, and the man saw clearly.
Since Jesus knew just what He was doing, He obviously had a point to make to the blind man or perhaps His observers. I like the King James Version of Mark 8:24. When asked if he saw anything, the man looked up and answered, "I see men as trees, walking." I am convinced that no matter how many Bible studies we attend and no matter how we serve our churches, we have not known the deep healing of Christ and the restoration of our souls until the way we view others has dramatically changed. Until we see everything clearly (v. 25). Just as Christ sees them. Christ didn't see men as trees, walking. The blind man wasn't healed until he saw men the way Christ saw them. We need to imitate Paul who said, "From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer" (2 Cor. 5:16).
Beloved, do we still see men as trees, walking? Do we see them as distortions of who they really are? Would we be willing to allow God to change our minds and adjust our sight? We're only half healed until then.