I urge all of you to pick up David Anderson’s excellent book Gracism. As I’ve blogged chapter by chapter, Anderson roots his work in Paul’s admonition to the church at Corinth to be inclusive rather than exclusive. He gives the metaphor of the Body of Christ being similar to the human body in every part being dependent on every other part. Putting this idea into practice would have a ground breaking effect on the impact of the Church in the world. Instead of being seen and countless separate enclaves of exclusivity. How do we get there though? Anderson offers these five suggestions, all rooted in the Body being led by Holy Spirit.
- Receive the Grace of God in Your Life First: It starts with us. Each of us who identifies as a follower of The Savior needs to ensure that we are fully surrendered to the work of the Spirit. Often we can be followers of Jesus for some time without allowing the Spirit to fully dominate our thoughts and actions. Until we do so, we will tend to be Christians whose actions and associations mirror the world at large be maintaining congregations of ethnic or racial separatism and exclusivity. Remember Galatians 3:26-28.2.
- Reach Over the Color Line By Inviting Someone to Your Church of Home: Even if you don’t feel like you’ve received the spiritual gift of hospitality, it should be a practice that we seek to display. We do this by inviting people different from ourselves into our most intimate surroundings, our homes or churches. Just as Jesus crossed every line imaginable, we as His people must also work to cross these lines as well. Remember Acts 1:8.
- Read on the Subject of Reconciliation: To be a bridge builder the Christian must devote the time and effort involved in the engineering practice. We must seek to understand not only our own corruption, of which the Bible provides more than ample evidence, but we must seek to understand the struggles, cultures, and dreams of our brothers and sisters of other races and ethnicities. Pastor David provides a short reading list at the end of the book of which I recommend all. I especially commend William Pannell’s book The Coming Race War. I once spoke with Mr. Pannell about my desire to make reconciliation a centerpoint of my ministry work to which he replied that it was the single greatest contribution the church can make in a world of desperate need.
- Relate on Purpose to People Who are Different: Humans tend to associate with those most like themselves. Our natural tendency is not to seek out others who exist in a different circle but this is Anderson’s prescription. He suggests that we make it our business to go out of our way to work, shop, or play in areas in which we are most likely to encounter those different from ourselves. In doing so we move outside of our comfort zone, allowing ourselves to feel the pressure of moving in different circles. This will help us to empathize with those we invite into our little circles. Remember Jesus moving out into Samaria in John 4.
- Link with a Church or Organization that Promotes Care for the Poor: This goes without saying and should already be a mark of every Christian body. Jesus clearly values the care of the less fortunate and therefore, it becomes our care. Remember Matthew 25.
Pastor Anderson closes the book with an African proverb that can guide all of us in bridge building. So long as we are willing to keep people unlike ourselves at a distance, it is easy to see them through a filter. Getting closer and closer allows us to see that we are all alike; fallen humans in need of the love of the Savior.
When I saw him from afar, I though he was a monster.
When he got closer, I thought he was just an animal.
When he got closer, I recognized that he was a human.
When we were face to face, I realized that he was my brother.