PREJUDICE is a sad thing. It's hard to believe someone wouldn't be friends with certain people just because of their race or religion or cultural heritage. It's especially sad when that person misuses religious teachings as a supposed justification for this prejudice.
I was raised in a wonderful, loving Christian family. We moved several times while I was growing up. At each school I went to, among my new friends, I always became special friends with a student who was a different race from me. It just turned out that way.
After a few moves, my mother commented that it was interesting that this happened wherever I went to school. I hadn't really noticed, but her comment made me think about it. I guess those friends could feel that I wasn't prejudiced. In fact, I still enjoy knowing people with different cultural backgrounds.
Lots of kids grow up in loving, God-revering homes but still hold prejudiced views. So what was different in my family?
My parents' own lack of prejudice set the example for me. And underlying their view--and my own--was our study of a very special book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. This book helps us understand the true meaning of the Bible--showing that its message is one of love for all.
The Bible, in First John, says that ''God is love'' (4:8). Science and Health explains that God, divine Love, is the very Principle of the universe. This means everything real, including every true thought, must express Love--must express God's nature. Hateful thoughts just can't come from God, since God is Love itself. So everybody eventually (sooner rather than later, we hope) has to give up the kinds of thoughts that would divide us from one another. This book also shows us man's true nature--that because man is the spiritual reflection of God, we're created to express divine Love. That means everyone being equally loving to everyone, since God created us all.
When we see more clearly who man really is, God's child, we realize that all of us are one family, God's family. Understanding this gives us such a strong sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that we couldn't do anything but love everyone--free of prejudice.
Man is spiritual, so he can't be categorized by skin color or by ethnic background. Man is the perfect image and likeness of God, so he actually expresses Spirit itself. Peter, a faithful follower of Christ Jesus, was taught this by God. He said, we read in Acts, ''Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him'' (10:34, 35). It's loving and doing good that truly identifies us, not what we look like or how we were raised or where we live!
The author of Science and Health also followed Jesus faithfully. She points out: ''It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established'' (p. 467). Wars and hatred grow out of fear, prejudice, and selfishness. They can be stopped, but we have to see that we're all children of God in order to help bring about such a result.
Sometimes it takes courage to stick up for brotherhood when people who haven't realized we're all equally God's children make ugly comments--or when it seems as if groups of different races don't even want to mingle. But it's our nature to be loving. So we can be faithful followers of Jesus ourselves and make sure our thoughts are full of love for everyone. And we can show by the friends we make and the actions we take that we're all one family. We're all children of God.
By this shall all men know
that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love
one to another.