A stereotype is defined as an over-simplified or standardized conception of a culture, profession or group. How often do we categorize people? For example, everyone knows that cops and donuts go together – right? The Italian people are all members of the Mafia. Rednecks have only one tooth and park their used furniture outside next to their pickups.
I happen to be composed of five different nationalities. I’m Irish, English, German, French and Swedish. I should therefore be a green beer swilling drunk- with a stiff upper lip – without a sense of humor, stubborn and serious all the time – a rude, arrogant romantic who loves freedom – and a blond socialist who shops at Ikea.
Well, I certainly hope that doesn’t describe me. It’s funny how we put people into pigeon-holes before we ever get a chance to know them. We have a tendency to judge. Do we tend to think we’re better than others? Do we look at outward appearances? Do we look at others unfairly? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we have at one time or another done this. We are all guilty, because it is part of our sinful nature.
Christians are also placed into a stereotypical category. Many think that if you’re a Christian, your life is perfect – that you have no problems and if you do, it’s because you’ve done something to displease God. They think you’re a goody two shoes – you’re too conservative – you don’t have any fun. They think you worry too much about sin – that you’re all show and no action or that you believe in fairy tales.
Many of those attitudes are formed because it’s easy to put people of one race, one nationality, one ethnic group, one religion into one category. We aren’t all the same. Each of us has unique qualities which set us apart from the other guy.
Matthew 1-2 says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
Dear Lord, help me to reflect on these words. Help me to keep an open mind in all my experiences today. Keep me from making judgments about people, their intentions, their thoughts, their motives, without really knowing what’s in their hearts. You alone are our judge. Don’t ever let me forget that. Amen!