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Healing prejudice

Prejudice can close our eyes to a lot of good. How we've become prejudiced against others is not as important as gaining our freedom from narrow-mindedness and bigotry.

If we find we're either the victims of bigotry or the proponents of it, we can find release through prayer. Understanding God's all-encompassing love for His children assures us that each one is His beloved offspring. God, illimitable Love, cares for His creation, collectively and individually. No one has been skipped over, deprived of God's bestowal of intelligence and grace.

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Simon Peter articulated God's comprehensive love for man when he said, ''Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.'' The natural conclusion of this understanding is our appreciation, love, and respect for one another. Earlier Peter had said, ''God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.'' n1

n1 Acts 10:34, 28

Christ Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: ''Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.'' n2 Why is it important to see and appreciate the good in others? If God is the creator of man and the universe, isn't it enough just to recognize the creator? Of course it's important to acknowledge God as the cause of all good. But we have to recognize God's work too - man made in God's image.

n2 Matthew:7:1 2.

This doesn't mean that a sinful mortal is God's image or that we should ignore evil. It does mean, though, that man's true selfhood, made in God's likeness, is good, and that healing results as we identify others spiritually.

Everyone has spiritual selfhood that mirrors God's divine nature. Focusing on a material view of a man, forming opinions based solely on personal likes and dislikes, is misleading and doesn't do others justice.

For example, one day at the bus station I saw a young man whose appearance differed greatly from my own ''standards.'' For a few moments I had less respect for him than I should have had. Then I noticed a two-way radio in his back pocket. I discovered he was an undercover policeman assigned to keep order at the bus station. There he was, on the job making the area safe for passengers, including me! I felt rebuked.

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On another occasion I discovered that prayer releases the good that appears to be caged in by prejudice and narrow, personal views. While looking for a permanent place to live, I stayed at the YMCA for a few days. But I couldn't find anything suitable. And every landlord wanted a larger down payment than I could afford.

One evening I prayed earnestly, acknowledging God as the only Mind, who knows what we need and never withholds good from His children. God would show me what to do next. I felt comforted by these divine facts. In a few minutes a friend called to tell me about a place to live - a large rooming house where retired women lived. I was a bachelor in my early 20's, and frankly, the thought of living with people so different from me wasn't very appealing.

After saying no I went back to praying. Then it occurred to me that this could have been the answer to my prayer. It was worth investigating.

I went to the rooming house and was totally surprised. It was a beautiful old white New England home immaculately maintained by the landlady and her husband. Without delay I signed a lease and moved into my first-floor room. It even had a fireplace. And my new landlady was in no hurry to have the first month's rent. It was perfect for me.

For the next few years it was as if I had two dozen grandmothers. We had a wonderful time together. There couldn't have been a more interesting place to live.

Prejudice is limitation. We isolate ourselves from the good others have to share. How often have you and I felt blessed by being able to share the good we feel? Prayer jars us loose from fixed opinions about others. Acknowledging that our fellowman is actually God's representative, we open up the possibility of seeing limitless good. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might, immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud. All the varied expressions of God reflect health, holiness, immortality - infinite Life, Truth, and Love.'' n3

n3 Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, p. 518

Loving our fellowman, discerning his actual selfhood as the whole and complete offspring of God, reveals more of God's goodness, which we might have missed through prejudice. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24

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