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put that nickel in your mouth. Some n*gg*r may have touched it."
Not exactly what you'd expect
to hear from a teacher, but it is my earliest remembrance of Sunday School.
Throughout the years, I've learned that most people struggle with racism--even
I know I do.
Don't get me wrong. I don't
consider myself a bigot, but there are times I prejudge people too.
Take the time Susan and I
drove through Los Angeles after spending four days on a cruise ship. It
was right after the Rodney King riots of 1992. The bustling "City
of Angels" looked like a ghost town. People locked their doors and
stayed at home. No one was on the freeways.
I was very conscious of the
color of people's skin as I drove through town. I couldn't wait to get
home to "my people."
I was scared.
Even good Christian men and
women struggle with prejudice. Simon Peter did. But after God dealt with
him, he said: "I see very clearly that God doesn't show partiality.
 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.
(Acts 10:34-35 NLT)
When Peter became aware of
his prejudice and applied the gospel to it, he made the necessary adjustments
in his thinking. It all began, though, with addressing the hidden prejudices
in his heart.
Back to the nickel . . .
the teacher was right, I shouldn't have put that nickel in my mouth. But
she was wrong to let that kind of language come out of hers. Jesus said:
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the
heart; and they defile the man." (Matthew 15:18 KJV)