Implicit bias is defined as a positive or negative mental attitude towards a person, thing, or group that a person holds at an unconscious level. Most times when we hear the word BIAS, it is used to describe a negative outlook that affects people demographically. We typically hear of racial bias and gender bias. But what about how these biases manifest themselves in your faith and love walk?
Basically, a bias is a prejudgment. I have to admit that I know I hold them – you probably do too as much as you’d hate to admit. I am confronting them as much as possible and as God is pushing me more into uncharted territory and causing me to interact with people I never would have outside of His leading. There are certain seeds that our upbringings and backgrounds plant in our hearts that cause us to lean in a certain direction. I remember dating a guy a few years ago who was adamantly against worshipping God with music and instruments. I could not understand this because I was raised in a boisterous worship environment. He was so angry with me because I thought differently than he did and he judged my relationship with God based on that. He loved God as much as I did. He just had a prejudgment based on the way I related to Him differently.
How many of us do this to others and become a stumbling block for others to build their relationship with God? We hear things from somewhere (most of us don’t even know where these ideas come from) and we base our lives on them. We build monuments that stand in the way of God really penetrating our hearts. They also stand in the way of us deeply connecting with our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as ministering to those who don’t know Him yet. Matthew 22:37-40 says, “And he said to him,”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.””
How many of us are truly loving God and His people with open hearts? I won’t lie – I haven’t and still struggle to. We love other people based on our love and acceptance of ourselves. We judge ourselves and are our own worst critics – so it makes it hard for us to extend grace towards others. Have you ever wondered why you just didn’t like someone or something? You can’t quite articulate it, but you just know you don’t like them. This is likely an implicit bias surfacing. It is a thought and mental attitude you have at a subconscious level that you may need to ask God to help you address.
I was speaking with my social justice team a few weeks ago about my biases toward white people. With all of the racial tension in the world and my own personal experiences over time, it has been difficult for me to really trust white people. I’m not ashamed to say this because it is something I have prayed about and am working on. God has placed me in a space where I am now close with white people. And I absolutely love them! I never had a negative judgment about them because I have been getting to know them and God revealed their hearts to me. Because of this, I have been able to relate to other white people differently than I had previously. I won’t say my guard isn’t still up with some people (black folks too…), but realizing I had this bias helped me work to address it. I couldn’t truly say I loved God and His people if I was holding negative mindsets toward them.
Why is this important? Because we build walls that keep people and God out when we jump to rash conclusions. Whether it is a bias towards a race, faith, gender, or sexual preference, we can become a major stumbling block for God to reach out to someone. Most of our negative (and some positive) biases are based on fears or unfamiliarity. Check your ego and preconceived ideas at the door and really get to know others. You are an extension of the Father – ministering His love, grace and peace to others. You have healing balm in your heart whether you know it or not. Being closed minded doesn’t serve you or anyone else well. Ask God to reveal the stony parts of your heart to you, then ask Him to massage them into softened clay.