The church column with Rev Neville Simpson

Rev Neville Simpson.
Rev Neville Simpson.

I’m normally busy finishing off for Sunday services on Saturday night so apart from Match of the Day late evening I don’t see much television. I do however record some bits and pieces including a programme called ‘The Voice’.

The format of the show is based on the panel listening to the singers but not seeing them.

You see a young person in Goth clothing and may form an instant opinion.

You see a young person in Goth clothing and may form an instant opinion.

They decide purely on what they hear whether to press a buzzer to indicate they would like that singer on their team. Only then do they turn around and see the singer.

It is great to see some of the surprised looks when the panel actually sees the contestant and they are obviously nothing like they expected them to be. The angelic voice comes from a burly trucker.

The gravely rock voice is a sixteen year old girl.

I like the idea that you are judged on your voice, your ability and not your age, body shape, dress sense or anything else.

It is a level playing field that does away with the stereotyping of pop stars based on looks and image.

Maybe I take this view because I never made it into a boy band or because I’m a middle aged overweight minister! We need to be careful of stereotyping as we can all easily do it.

You see the young person in Goth clothing and have an instant opinion about them.

You see the burly, tattooed man with body piercing and you have an instant opinion of him. In reality every person is an individual and every person unique.

The young Goth could be volunteering with Help the Aged. The burly tattooed man with body piercing could be a doctor.

It is easy to do the same with asylum seekers, workers from overseas and the homeless to name just a few categories where stereotyping happens.

One of my greatest concerns following the Brexit decision is how we treat those who are different from us particularly those from other countries. We can if not careful label whole groups of people without giving it a second thought.

Jesus spent an awful lot of his ministry challenging stereotyping and the prejudice it ensues. He ate with tax collectors like Zacchaeus when no one else would.

He spent time speaking to a Samaritan woman when no self respecting Jew would be in her presence.

He chose an unlikely and disparate set of disciples to be his followers based on them as individuals not their background or status.

Jesus treats people as individuals and listened to their story and found out about them rather than write them off through stereotyping. He saw every human being as unique and as valued because they are made in the image of God and loved by God. It is a challenge for us today to see the individual and not the stereotype. The world will be a better place for the removal of stereotyping so why not make an effort to see the person for whom they are and judge them on that.