Anderson defines racism as ‘speaking, acting or thinking negatively about someone else solely based on that person’s color, class or culture’ in Gracism. It is productive to add an aspect of power on the part of the racist that extends over the oppressed but we can continue in our discussion of David’s book without it. In beginning to lay the foundation of his ideas, Anderson begins by making the case logically and theologically that inclusion within the body of Christ makes sense in this day and age. Not only does the Bible make a clear case for reaching out to all people but it also makes clear our reliance on one another.
The excursus of 1 Corinthians 12 begins with an observation of Paul’s insertion of a reference to race and culture in verse 13:
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greek, slave or free–and we were all give the one Spirit to drink.
The apostle didn’t casually mention the union of all members of the body and then toss in this reference to race and culture. In fact, it can be argued that this applies a filter through which the remaining verses of this pericope are to be read. A new reading of the verses 14-27 points us to action; anyone who may feel, look or truly be ‘unpresentable’ or ‘weaker’ must be handled, and even honored, differently. The Church body should never be content with those that surround them, they must constantly be looking toward the fringes looking to include other parts of the body who something to contribute to God’s mission.
We as the body are confronted with questions that derive from this idea. We must ask ourselves first if our church, small group, or Bible class represents a group that Christ would assemble, being inclusive as He was. We must confront our choices by asking if we are perpetuating segregation among Christians and simply justifying it with my preferences and comfort? Those who militate for multi-ethnic churches within the Body must prepare for disagreement. Anderson recounts an attack from an African American man who felt that his message was against the black church, calling him a menace. His reply is stark where he says:
I’ve never read a text of Scripture that outlines God’s design for a one-race church….As much as I love the black church and at times miss it, there will be no black church in heaven. There will be one church and it will be multicultural. One bride, not a harem, is what Jesus is coming back for.”
A sobering thought for those who insist on continuing in unicultural ministry. Are you truly reflecting your Lord?