I recently finished David Anderson’s book on inclusion called, “Gracism.” He introduces a new term which, he believes, will help people understand a biblical perspective on the race concerns of our culture. In many ways, Anderson’s book is a practical and honest consideration of Christian love.
Anderson has an agenda, of course, and uses grace to communicate his concerns. His idea of grace is that believers have been given something we neither deserved nor earned and we ought to give in the same way. He encourages us to reach out to those who are not included in our normal circles of affluence or influence, to deliberately cross any boundaries that have kept some people separate and disadvantaged. This reflects, in his mind, the grace of Christ.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the general thrust of the book, I found it to be too narrow in focus and too preachy for my enjoyment. I believe that grace teaches us that there are no barriers of race, gender, or life situation. I believe that the love of Christ is equally given to anyone. I believe that Christians ought to be the most inclusive and least bigoted people on the planet. A great deal of evil has been perpetuated in the church because of the narrow and unkind prejudices of believers.
Yet, I think Anderson steps into something less than grace when he suggests that we should actively seek out people who fit our definition of disadvantaged. It is a racial issue, for him. He admits that racial prejudices exist in all ethnic groups, but the message is clearly one of socialistic equalizing rather than simple love. Jesus welcomed all people and His welcome to the lesser esteemed people was noticed, but He was just as open to a Pharisee as to a prostitute. He found very few open hearts among the Pharisees or other advantaged people but His grace was equally available to them.
One interesting example near the beginning of the book is used to illustrate a “gracist” attitude. A woman standing in line at the airport sees a family from another culture trying to get into the line. She assumes that they do not understand the concept of lines because they are from a culture other than hers. They have children and are tired. The line has been established for some time and people have been very protective of their positions. So the woman allows the family to go ahead of her and she is lauded, in the book, as an example of selfless grace.
We might ask whether the people behind the woman were as blessed as she was by her action. We may ask how she knew that this family didn’t understand that they should get in line like everyone else. We may also wonder why this woman didn’t simply give her place in line to these strangers and go to the back herself, since that would have come closer to blessing both the family and the people behind her. But, instead, she decided that all the advantaged people in the line should be gracists.
I was hoping for something more than what this book offered when I considered the title. Racism, in any form, is abhorrent to the mind of Christ – but not because some can’t get into the special clubs at the airport. Racism is abhorrent because it allows a person to consider himself better than another when, in truth, all that we have is what we have received. I am not better than anyone else, no matter whether I have more things or opportunities. If Jesus leads me to share with others, I should; but I will not fix the problem of racism by sharing. I will simply communicate love.
All that I have and all that I am have come from the Lord who loves me – who gives to me in spite of what I have deserved. I should remember that when I consider others.