In Gracism, David Anderson highlights Paul’s analogy of the body in 1 Corinthians 12 as a call for unity in the body, with all members weak and strong contributing to good of all other members. No division of any kind is approbated for God designed his body so that each is reliant on the other and none are to stand alone. Anderson roots much of his book in verses 21 – 26:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, , while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
From this passage, he distills seven principles for the Gracist to put into practice.
- “Special Honor” – lifting up the humble among us.
- “Special Modesty” – protecting the most vulnerable among us from embarrassment.
- “No Special Treatment” – refusing to accept special treatment if it is at the detriment of others who need it.
- “Greater Honor” – God, as a Gracist, has given greater honor to the humble.
- “No Division” – when the majority helps the minority, and the stronger help the weaker, it keeps us from division within the body.
- “Equal Concern” – having a heart as big for our neighbors as we do for ourselves.
- “Rejoices with it” – when the humble, or less honorable, are helped, we are to rejoice with them.
In applying the first principle, the Gracist is committed to locating and lifting up those who are the fringes or our churches, our communities, and our cultures. This includes those who are in any kind of minority or in need of a voice at the table because their own is too weak or quiet to be heard. It takes extra effort to locate these brothers and sisters but as Paul teaches, these parts are indispensable to the whole and require special honor.
When we who perceive ourselves to be in the majority or in a position of authority attempt to put this into practice, David gives a word of caution in selecting our approach. There are many ways of offering ‘special honor’ that can be misperceived or denigrating to the very people that we are attempting to honor. Prayer is most appropriate but we can remove any authoritarian barriers by also asking the recipeint of our prayer to be in prayer for us, making us all equal in our need of the grace of God. We must be sure that any attempt that we make to lift others is seen by them as honoring to other than ourselves. He gives the excellent example of his church adopting a community in which they could come and serve and lift the people of that community. A wise leader cautioned him on his use of the term adopt as it connotes an authoritarian position over the weaker community, diminishing them and making them feel like children. A better term, he opined, would be to partner with the community, humbling the church and lifting the community to equal places at the table.
Who are the people in your world that need Special Honor?