Bob Hall from Wikimedia Commons

Matthew 21:28–32 ‘There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” “I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.’ (vv28b–29)

Our faith is born as a consequence of changing our mind. We choose to invest our confidence in God’s promises. Jerusalem’s townsfolk quickly changed their minds about Jesus, sealing His fate. The consequences of our decisions are often far greater than we originally anticipate. Therefore, we must reflect before making any decision. Too often, we are prisoners to our surrounding culture. Today, there’s much talk of unconscious, or unintended, bias, the automatic assessments we make every day. A friend of mine describes 11am on Sunday as the most segregated hour in his country, the USA. Visiting a number of churches in my home city some years ago, I found a similar picture.

Here, Jesus identifies how the Pharisees’ criticism of His followers was due to their perception of who the disciples were. We can never penetrate another’s self- perception, and there is always a history that determines how we show up in life. Too often, Christianity established itself upon the high ground of telling everyone else what they needed. However, it’s more essential we consider how we respond to God. Daring to step outside our familiar and comfortable circles will challenge our instinctive perceptions and highlight our prejudices. Refusal to do so firmly anchors us in what we already know. We need to learn to engage with a wider audience. Grateful for our heritage, we must think afresh about how to relate to a fast-changing world. Failure to do so can only produce Pharisaism.

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Exod. 13:17–22; Jer. 34:8–17; Acts 28:1–6; Gal. 3:23–29.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: Unconscious bias will only be revealed once we move to the edge of our existing social context and dare to explore others’. Who can you start a conversation with?

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, help me to lift my eyes above the horizon of my preferred comfort zone. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.