PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

I know Pride and Prejudice is the title of Jane Austen’s 1813 romance novel, but that’s not what I’m thinking about as I write this post. What I have in mind is some people’s attitude about where they live in relation to where others live.

It first happened to me when I accepted the call to a small church in the Philadelphia area in 1975. A man I looked up to threw a wet blanket on my excitement when he asked me, “Why would you go there?” Then he added, “You could have gotten a good church here in Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana.” I loved growing up in and going to school in the Cincinnati area, but Jan and I also loved our 10 years in Philadelphia.

Our next move was in 1984 to small but growing community in Southern California and I took some hits from a few Midwesterners about going to the land of hippies and marijuana. That was bad enough, but once we settled in and started the church we moved to plant I often heard snide remarks about Moreno Valley from people who lived in Orange County and other more attractive places in the area. Jan and I thoroughly enjoyed and loved our 32 years in Moreno Valley.

Late last year we relocated to Amarillo, Texas, to be near our grandsons and I was surprised by the negative comments we received from a few in Southern California about the place to which we were moving. You might think I would be used to it, but I was shocked last week when we were in Dallas for a conference to have three different people respond negatively when they learned we were from Amarillo. For the record, Jan and I are overjoyed to be living in Amarillo, being a part of the community, fellowshipping with our new church, and being fully engaged with our grandsons.

I understand and applaud an appropriate pride in terms of where a person lives. I’ve had that in every place I have lived during my 66 years. What I don’t understand is the prejudice some have about the places where others live. It seems to me we can be positive about and pleased with our community without looking down on the communities of others.

I think the prophet Jeremiah’s advice to the Israelites who were taken captive to Babylon is good advice for Christians today regardless of where they live: This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

Have pride in where you live and don’t be prejudiced against other places. And be sure to make the most of where you live.

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