By David Anderson
Racism is not reserved for one color or culture of people. The sin of racism is an equal opportunity destroyer. Racism is not simply a skin problem but a sin problem. While this may sound like a cliché, we must continue to sound the alarm that sin is what God hates, but sinners are whom God loves.
Continual reminders of the spiritual impact sin has on people, like racism, is important so everyone can see the negative consequences that affect many. All have sinned, and all can sin, regardless of race. Therefore, it is important to note that blacks, like me, can be racists too.
While walking on the street, I heard a black man using racially pejorative language referring to Mexicans, I thought to myself about the universality of sin, regardless of race. Even in my own multicultural church, we have to mentor and disciple people out of racist mind-sets. We have heard and confronted negative racial language, much of which comes from habit, about Asians, whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The most common racial giant to slay these days is against Arabs, most of whom are Muslims.
We now live in a country that is pulling itself out of the muddy waters of racism as an acceptable public practice. In North America, everyone has some distinction. Whether white, black, Mexican, female, male, gay, straight, disabled, or overweight, everyone has a mark of distinction. And everyone has the capability of putting someone else down based on their color, culture, or class. No matter its form, racism still lives because sin still exists. And would it not be a tragedy to see people of color turn around and become the most vicious racists of all against others? Would it not be a terrible cultural shift to see women step on the masculinity of their counterparts to gain their liberation? Equally, how offensive and heartbreaking do you think it is for blacks to continually see young, unarmed black males shot down and killed by law enforcement amid the persistent silence of many white brothers and sisters in Christ?
There is an answer to racism that doesn’t leave people feeling left out, judged, and discriminated against. There is a theological response to the sociological ills of racism in the culture and racial segregation in the church, right? The answer is GRACISM.
All people struggle with sins of superiority, inferiority, and greed. This includes not only Europeans, Latinos, and white Americans, but also a select number of Africans who sold their brothers and sisters into American slavery some 400 years ago. And it includes the many countries, corporations, and religious denominations that either saw what was happening and turned their heads, or directly benefited from the heinous horrors of American slavery.
Gracism is God’s solution to racism. Gracism means to positively extend favor to others regardless of, and sometimes because of, color, class, or culture. This idea of extending grace in the areas of racism is meted out in seven ways that can be found in my book Gracism: The Art of Inclusion (IVP, 2007).
God is the biggest gracist of all. Imitating God’s example of moving toward those of another race, the human race, gives us a model of how we, too, can be gracists. Gracism is the only way to overcome the insidious sin problem of racism.
David Anderson is founder and senior pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, Columbia, Maryland, and founder and president of BridgeLeader Network.