How to Turn Racism into Gracism
- Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of David A. Anderson's book, Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, (InterVarsity Press, 2007).
No faithful person wants to be a racist, but simply avoiding racism isn’t enough to bring reconciliation between people. You can do more than just ignoring differences as if they don’t matter. Instead, you can become a gracist – someone who uses the differences between people’s color, economic class or culture as an opportunity to show God’s love to others.
While a racist uses distinctions between people to hurt, a gracist uses them to heal. Here’s how you can become a gracist:
Receive God’s grace into your own life. If you haven’t yet embraced the grace that God offers you by trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, do so today. Know that once you receive God’s grace yourself, He’ll use your life as a channel through which His grace can flow to other people as well.
Develop compassion for others. Think about what makes you feel insecure around other people (such as your race, gender, age, weight, a certain physical feature you don’t like, a disability, etc.). Consider how you felt whenever someone you judged you based on that, before they ever got to know you. Decide to look beyond your first impressions of people and build relationships with them. Ask God to give you the ability to view people as He sees them. Invite God to pour out His love for others through your life.
Understand the difference between favor and favoritism. Realize that gracism is about favor (showering grace on a few while having love for all) instead of favoritism (purposely neglecting the needs of the many to accommodate the greeds of a few). Seek to be inclusive instead of exclusive when you reach out with extra kindness to others.
Repent. Ask God to reveal how you’ve sinned in the past by treating people negatively on the basis of their color, class or culture. Repent of those sins and rely on God’s power to help you grow beyond judging people and toward encouraging them with extra grace when they need it.
Educate yourself. Get to know people from other races, economic classes, and cultures. Proactively seek them out in your community and build friendships with them (such as by inviting them to your home for meals). Read about the history of the race, class, or culture to which they belong so you’re informed when talking with them and can better understand their plight.
Look at your lifestyle. Consider whether or not the way you’re currently living your life honestly helps you build relationships of reconciliation with people who are different from you. Are you isolated from people of other colors, classes and cultures, or do you regularly interact with them? Are you perpetuating segregation among Christians by participating in a homogenous congregation (such as all black, all white, all Korean, or all Latino, all young adults, all elderly people, all suburban residents, all urban residents, all wealthy people, all low income people, etc.) and justifying it on the basis of your comfort and personal preferences, or are you part of a multicultural congregation? Are you participating in any volunteer work with a church or other organization that helps marginalized people? What are some specific ways that you’re actively working to build bridges of reconciliation between yourself and people who come from different backgrounds? Remember that heaven will be a multicultural place. Ask God to help you view all believers as your brothers and sisters in Christ and treat them accordingly.
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