Offering Grace to People Different from You

Today on our Focus on the Family Broadcast, we’re honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an important conversation about racism with our guest Dr. David A. Anderson, the founder and senior pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, located in Maryland.

He confronts the problem of racism with the idea of “Gracism,” which is about expressing favor toward other people regardless of – or sometimes even because of – their color, class, or culture.

Dr. Anderson, who is African American, coined the term in the years following his own experiences with racism. After college, he served as an intern at Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago. On his way to Willow Creek on his very first morning of work, he was pulled over about a mile from the church by a police officer who asked what he was doing in the area. At lunch, he got pulled over again by a different officer. And later that afternoon, again by yet another officer. Altogether, he was pulled over four times in a 24-hour period by four different white officers.

While our nation has made some great strides toward equality, there’s still a long way to go. As you know, 2020 saw an escalation in violent protests that brought the subject of racism back into the headlines and into our everyday conversation.

Dr. Anderson’s word “Gracism” combines a bad word “racism” and a good word “grace” into a new word that reminds us of how to infuse our personal interactions and our communities with peace, hope, and justice.

“Gracism” expresses itself toward others, through you, in seven ways:

  • I will lift you up. How can I build someone up that’s different than me – a different color, a different class, a different culture, a different background?
  • I will cover you. How can I protect the most vulnerable among me from embarrassment or from harm?
  • I will share with you. How can I share my resources with others who are systematically downtrodden? How can I refuse special treatment for myself when it hurts others?
  • I will honor you. How can I give greater honor to people who lack status, respect, or honor?
  • I will stand with you. How can I stand with those who are weaker than me or who have less privilege?
  • I will consider you. How can offer others the same concern that I expect from them?
  • I will celebrate you. How can I praise God for blessing others in the same way that He blesses me?

As Dr. Anderson says, “The G in gracism stands for God, and when you put God in front of any problem, things change for the better.”

Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy is as important now as it was when he gave his iconic I Have a Dream speech, which painted a vision for America where all people were treated as equals and were measured by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. To that end, I’m excited for this discussion with Dr. Anderson, who offers some beautiful insights toward building bridges between races and encourages all of us to become “gracists” on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Offering Grace to People Different from You.” Listen to our conversation on your local radio station. Or you can tune in anytime online, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

Dr. David A. Anderson is author of the book Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, which is available for a gift of any amount. For more information, call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) or visit our website.

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