Bible Reflection
Like a Rose Trampled

Like a Rose Trampled

Have you ever been annoyed at some aspect of your culture being trampled over by another invading culture, or been incensed by your cultural norms being eroded away and replaced by other cultural systems?

For example, have you ever been annoyed that someone is talking loudly in public, inconsiderately, and in another language? Then thought, ‘How rude!’

Have you ever thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to have taxi drivers who can speak English and at least know how to navigate the place they are paid to drive in?’

Ever noticed that you no longer are part of the crowd but are becoming the one who stands out? It is you who is swiftly and fearfully being swept into a minority group? Ever thought whilst walking through the shopping center or driving through a particular suburb, “spot the Aussie!’

For many this is their reality.

Now I must confess to you, and to my absolute shame, the culture I was brought up in was simply selfish and intolerant.

Tolerance for aboriginals, nil.

Tolerance for Japanese, nil.

Asians, Chinese, Arabians, Egyptians etc., Nil.

Basically, anyone with skin that was not white was beneath me and were considered scum and not worthy to breath the same air as me. Beat them up and make their life a misery was just fine…and justifiable as they were considered only insignificant low-lifes. I was immersed in this through the adults in my world and by my peers.

The primary driver behind this was fear.

Fear that I would be robbed of a precious lifestyle. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear.

Fear ruled. Intolerance the defense. Bigotry the result.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18,19

Then at age 25, God stepped into my life. His Love for me was overwhelming… and I realised I didn’t deserve it. And yet He forgave me of all.

…that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Acts 10:43

His Love transformed me from being a racial prejudice hypocrite to one who could love anyone… especially those who I previously had contempt for. I am overwhelmed by that Love.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right…
Acts 10:34,35

This was my enlightenment too.

I’m so glad God didn’t show favouritism, accepted me and has forgiven me. Now it’s my turn to spread the Good News to all men, regardless of race, colour of their skin, etc. How privileged am I.

Now, do I still get upset with cultural erosion? Yes, sometimes. But it is no longer driven by fear but by values or principles. Godly values and principles.

Judgement is okay…BUT, it must be tempered with mercy. Mercy comes from understanding. I no longer attack the person but address the value or principle. I always attempt to understand the person first.  Then ask the question, ‘does the issue causing upset undermine or destroy a godly principle or value?’

  • If it does not, then I need to address MY perception. The Bible helps a lot in this situation. Prayer is good too!
  • If it does, then what can I do to directly address this? My fallback position if I can not do something specific or directly, is to pray and commit it to God… and leave it in His hands.

Either way, no more ulcers. No more anger. No more fear.

Hey, life is too short for unpleasantries.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10ff  (MKJV)

We were designed to live life and to live it abundantly.

Finally, I will leave you with what the Word of God says:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.   But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.   For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.   For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:8-13 (emphasis mine)

1 Comment

  1. Peter, I remember clearly…
    when I was a kid/teenager in Mount Isa, I felt intolerance toward aboriginals and felt above them – I hated their bahaviour, especially the drunk ones laying and fornicating on the council lawn as our mother and I went to pay rates – I remember seeing the signs “keep off the grass” and yet here they were just doing whatever they pleased. I was discusted, and yes feafull as they shouted out things like ‘whitie bitch’ to my mother etc (who, by the way, never warented or encouraged this, but was simply just walking by). I hated highschool because of them, they would shout out taunts and insults; I had to just take it, if I replied I got thumped. Bah humbug! So my racism started to build up.
    Having been around only whites and aboriginals in the town I knew nothing of the things that made other races and people tic; including their cultures and beliefs. I have been socially isolated into a pocket of a reasonably closed minded group.

    I broke the mould in my early twenties when I met my weird and wonderful husband in Townsville. He’s family is from a mixed European and Scotish heritage and a lot of his solid, good friends were aboriginal and Islanders. I met quite a few; and yes I was a little fearfull (just the size or the huge bloks made me cringe) at first, then as I got to know them, I started to understand them more. Turned out to be a good bunch (however rough they were). I hardly knew what to say to them because of my previous judgements and observations; I mostly stayed quiet and let them talk. I felt a little tense most of the time; but learnt to lighten up after awhile.
    After we moved to Brisbane we were both exposed to other cultures in the workforce…it was an eye opener.
    I remember going to a course to learn computer stuff and I was forced to work together with a multi-cultural team…it was a big shock…I felt intimidated, even by the way they dressed…I was clearly the underling in the course that was filled with some really smart people. Fearfull…Yeah! I could hardly speak with the team at first because they were asian and I knew nothing of their culture; all I could remember thinking was ‘not to trust the asians because of Japanese war etc.’ I was so silly. I finally made a connection with a lovely lady from Thailand called Tharntip, who was very humble and intelligent. We worked on a project together with 4 others and managed to come up with a great presentation after the 12 weeks. I learnt a lot from Tharntip, and through this I started to investigate different cultures and their beliefs and found it quite exciting.

    The last big surge forward was when I landed a good job in a Swedish company that made it one of their policies to have staff from as many different races as possible. Wow! now that was a shock. 350 people and so many races, all in the one place…it was an exciting time for me(but scary in the beginning) …I blended with all sorts of people in the huge lunch room, and in the show room and at the registers. I learnt so much and even helped a few to understand the Aussie way. The store attracted many more races as customers and I was the one to deal with escolated issues and other more interesting and more pleasing tasks. It was quite a challenge, but very rewarding.

    It took me until I was 43 to break the race barrier. While I feel I can accept different races now (and connect a lot better through understanding) I can still sometimes feel intimidated by confrontational individuals; only now I have learnt the lesson of ‘how to react better’ and have better outcomes.

    I guess the ‘fear’ never really goes away altogether, but it gets better with ‘time and tolerance for differences’ (and a lot of work and a bit of faith). I guess I had my ‘lightbulb moment’ in a different way to you Peter but you can probably bet that it was the ‘Big G’ who was behind it all and tweeking me to change all along…now I’m trying to ‘listen with love’ I guess you could say!
    cheers,
    Eve

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