“LET’S TALK ABOUT STEREOTYPE”            By Pastor YAU

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:11-19                                  February 5, 2012

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Stereotype in our time: When segregation was still evident in the South in 1960s, four students from an all-black college sat down at a white-only lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. One of them, Franklin McCain, noticed an elderly white woman seated nearby looking at them. He was sure that her thoughts were unkind toward them and their protest against segregation. Few minutes later the white lady walked over to them, put her hands on his shoulders and said, “Boys, I am so proud of you.” Recalling this event years later on National Public Radio, McCain said he learned from this event that we should never use stereotype to judge anyone because it is highly possible that our stereotype is all wrong.

2)   Stereotype in Paul’s time: The first century church, as well as the society like ours today, was often fractured by division on race, class, language and culture. That had caused problems to rise and had hindered the spread of the gospel message. So, when Paul wrote to the believers in the church at Corinth, he admonished them not to see people with more concern with outward appearance than what was in their hearts. (2 Corinth. 5:12) Because Christ died for all regardless of race, culture, socio-economic status or any other classification, Paul said, “From now on, we regard no one according to the fresh (the outward appearance).” (5:16)

 

GETTING TO KNOW STEREOTYPE:

1)   Definition of stereotype: According to online dictionary, stereo- type is defined as some conventional, formulaic and over-simplified concept, opinion or image on some class or group of people. Another definition: stereotype is a set of inaccurate, simplified generalization about people and treating them accordingly. So, we get the idea that stereotype is not a good nor accurate way to truly know people much less to treat them accordingly.

2)   Stereotype and ignorance: Most times, we form stereotype ideas about people of different race, culture, language or religion due to our ignorance: we don’t know them or don’t know enough of them, but we form our opinions about them without knowledge.

3)   Stereotype and misinformation: This is another wrong way we form stereotype opinion about different people based on inaccurate, incomplete or completely false information about them. This is the most common reason how we form stereotype opinion on others: we read, heard or watch tv program or news and form our opinion about them without accurate information.

4)   Stereotype and human defects: This is the worst kind of all. It includes fear of the unknown, groundless pride, over size self- assertion and even vicious intention of degradation on others who are just different from us.

 

DANGERS OF STEREOTYPE: just to list a few common ones.

1)     Stereotype creates segregation: This is evident in the racial segregation in South Africa and United States. The idea of slavery is strongly connected with stereotype of the black by the white. This is also evident in the congregating of minorities in certain part of the country or a city. Many social and economic problems rise from racial, ethnic or religious segregation.

2)     Stereotype generates tension: Segregation creates ignorance and mistrust, and mistrust generates tension between the groups. We see this in cities, neighborhoods, social classes and ethic tensions. Tensions without outlets of defuse may trigger conflicts or struggle between the groups.

3)     Stereotype hinders cooperation: Because of segregation by stereotype, cooperation between groups or contribution to the well being of each other become difficult if not impossible. This will greatly hinder growth in many things from culture to economy, from education to other kinds of social services. Any society, civic organization or church will suffer from lack of cooperation due to stereotype segregation.

4)     Stereotype violates God’s principle: Segregation by stereotype violates biblical principle: God created man all equal, loves all men and Christ came to demolish the dividing wall of hostility to make peace between the Israelis and the Gentiles. (Ephesians 2:13-16)Stereotype and its effects of segregation in Christian circle either personally or corporately is a violation of God’s principle of living in peace with all men. (Romans 12:18)

 

BIBLICAL ANTIDOTE FOR STEREOTYPE: (2 Cor. 6:11-19)

1)    Be determined to change: “So, from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” (6:16) Faith in the Lord Jesus is more than just a way to eternal life, it is also a way of internal change: changed from worldly point of view to spiritual point of view when we see, understand, interpret people and things. Worldly also include our natural human tendency and methods. If we really want to get rid of stereotype, we need to be determined to change our mindset, not to follow the world but to follow the spirit.

2)    Getting to know them: “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God. If we are in our right mind, it is for you.” (6:13) Just as Festus, the Roman official, thought that Paul was out of his mind, (Acts 26:24) the people at Corinth had the same feeling about him: he is out of his mind in preaching some new and ridiculous doctrine. They didn’t bother to spend time to know Paul and his teaching but made up their mind on him by their stereotype. “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” Do you remember this line in the movie: The King and I? Ms Anna, the British tutor working in the Siamese palace wanted to know the king and his mind, value, way of doing things. Before we are willing to spend time and efforts to know someone, some people, our judgment on them are mostly stereotype prejudice.

3)    Start on the right foot: “Though we once regard Christ in this way (the worldly way), we do so no longer. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” (6:16b-17) No one can see people and things without the interference of human nature, stereotype, unless he is born again in Christ, becomes a new man with a new perspective of a spiritual life. As long as we live in the human mind, we can’t do anything to be rid of the worldly point of view. We need to be in Christ to have that spiritual insight to see people and things in a different way.

4)    Change for a good reason: “All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of recon-ciliation: That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ.” (6:18-19) Changing our stereotype of prejudice is more than just changing our perspective on people and things. It is about opening up windows and doors for us to reach out to others for Christ, to present the gospel message and to bring them to God through Christ. You don’t have to go to a foreign country to do foreign mission. You can do foreign mission right her in your hometown, your neighborhood, your workplace and your circle of people you live and work with. Breaking down that stereotype prejudice may open up opportunities to bring people to God through Christ.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    Do you really know yourself: I mean do you really know that you don’t have any stereotype about people and things? If you are as honest as I am, you know you have lots of stereotype prejudice against many people, individual or groups. Don’t panic, you are human like me, we all do. Knowing we have stereotype is not a death sentence. Keeping them is.

2)    Do something about it. Don’t let the baggage of stereotype and prejudice hang around your head too long. Follow the Bible way to get them off your shoulders. You will be happier in life and more effective for the Lord in bringing others to know him.