Give greater honor to people society judges. Ask God to help you honor people who don’t seem honorable to you when you judge them (like welfare recipients, illegal immigrants or mentally ill people). Understand that when people’s circumstances cause others to dishonor them, your duty is to reach out and serve them.  Remember that, if it weren’t for God’s grace, you could be in their same circumstances. Keep in mind that everything you have – even your next breath – is a gift from God, and let your gratitude motivate you to serve others with grace. Be willing to give food to poor people or spend time with AIDS patients without worrying about whether or not they deserve it. Instead of blaming people for the problems they face, refuse to put them down when they’re already down-and-out. Ask God to help you avoid mean-spirited, degrading, or divisive speech. Don’t tell jokes that injure people. When you hear someone saying something negative about a marginalized person, counteract that by saying something positive yourself about that person. Invest time and money in programs that help honor people who lack honor in society. For example, support a program that helps children of incarcerated parents. Reach out to those who are lonely (like the elderly or the disabled) and spend time sitting and listening to them. Be intentional about reaching out to marginalized people.

Stand with others in unity. Understand that when the majority helps the minority, and the stronger helps the weaker, it prevents division from taking place in the body of Christ. Pray together with other believers. Praise God alongside your spiritual brothers and sisters. Recognize how much you all depend on Him, and let that knowledge humble you and bond you to each other. Remember that heaven will be a diverse place, filled with people of every earthly race, culture, and class. Speak up for people who are mistreated, devalued, ignored, or left out, so they won’t feel the need to fight for themselves and cause division. March for a cause you champion, vote for candidates who promise to help the disenfranchised, write to members of Congress to speak out on a issue that’s close to your heart, and stand up for people who aren’t getting opportunities they should have to serve in your church. Ask God to help you overcome pride and avoid boasting about your background or abilities. Remember that all believers are redeemed by grace, no matter what distinctions exist between you and them.

Consider your neighbors’ needs as important as you do your own. Ask God to give you a heart as big for your neighbors as you do for yourself, so you can be equally concerned about their wellbeing and yours. Consider others’ thoughts and feelings before making unilateral decisions that might adversely affect them. Instead of thinking of your relationships with people who differ from you as “you against them,” think of them as “us together.” Look beyond selfish concerns and your own agenda to reach out to others in need, regardless of how much they differ from you. Pray about what specific ways God might want you to minister to people, and once you identify those ways, take action.

Celebrate with others. Rejoice when marginalized people receive the help and blessings they need. Don’t let jealously stop you from reaching out to people. Ask God to help you celebrate even when your own desires haven’t yet been met (such as when you’re infertile, but someone else has a baby, or when you’re unable to afford a house, but someone else buys a home for the first time). Congratulate people and attend parties in their honor. Encourage people to pursue their dreams, and recognize their successes when they achieve their goals.

Adapted from Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, copyright 2007 by David A. Anderson.  Published by IVP Books, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.  
David A. Anderson (D. Phil., Oxford) is the founder and senior pastor at Bridgeway Community Church, one of the nation's leading multicultural churches, located in Columbia, Maryland. He serves as CEO of BridgeLeader Network (a consulting organization) and an instructor of cultural diversity at the University of Phoenix (Columbia Campus). His previous books include Letters Across the Divide (Baker, 2001) and Multicultural Ministry (Zondervan, 2004). Anderson was the first African American to be student body president at Moody Bible Institute, and he is a Fellow in the Oxford Society of Scholars. Anderson is also the nationally syndicated radio talk show host of “Reconciliation Live.”