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Message

The Third Option - Part 1, The Third Option
Miles McPherson - September 9, 2018

Message Recap

As Pastor Miles begins the first session of The Third Option series, he discusses the types of racism, as well as in-group and out-group biases. 

He explains how the devil has done a great job to use racism to divide us and pull us apart. However, we serve a God that puts things back together.

  • 3 Kinds of Racism:
  • 1. Institutional racism – systems that are created to keep people apart. For example, living in specific neighborhoods because that’s what others say is “appropriate.” 

  • 2. Internalized racism – is when the people that have been discriminated against start internalizing the message and start hating themselves. They deny their own culture and assimilate to deny who they are. 

  • 3. Personally mediated racism – when you direct something toward somebody else. “I don’t like you. I don’t trust you.”

You can be racially offensive and not be a racist. Why? Because sometimes you don’t even know you’re doing it. Sometimes people get nervous and say certain things. Sometimes it’s just the way others receive things. 

You have to be able to say, “Yes, I was offensive but that wasn’t my heart.” We have to be willing to learn.

Pastor Miles encourages us to approach the situation from a standpoint of learning.

God doesn’t want us to avoid stuff as much as He wants us to aggressively lean into loving people. Pastor Miles says, “Don’t tolerate me, love me.”

What can you do to be uniting? 

He explains his background of having a Chinese grandparent, a White grandparent, and Jamaican-Black grandparents. He discusses how he grew up in both a White neighborhood and a Black neighborhood, and he would experience racism from both neighborhoods. 

How is it and why is that we are so divided? It’s an us. vs. them mentality. In every race conversation, it’s us vs. them. Culture will force you to pick one of two options. Pastor Miles proposes that there is actually a third option. 

Joshua 5:13-15 - And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Culture will make you pick and say that you have to be on somebody’s side and against somebody. The Third Option is that we honor what we all have in common. Instead of focusing on what is different, that we honor what we have in common which is that we were all made in the image of God. And the image of God that is in each one of us is not inferior or superior to anyone else. 

We need to get past the us vs. them mentality, and focus on what we have in common…humans are 99.5%  genetically identical, no matter what each person looks like.

In-Group/Out-group: The way we sort people into groups that are either “like me” or “not like me,” creating “us” vs. “them.” 

We are all in multiple groups. Whatever groups you are in, you understand those people fairly well because you deal with them all the time. This is your “in-group.” The people that are not in those groups are in your “out-group.” Those in our group we don’t understand as much because we don’t hang out with them as much. But we have little bits of information about those people, and that creates the lens in which we see other people.

When you’re referring to your out-group, you need to understand that you have very little information about them. 

In-Group Bias: The tendency to give preferential treatment to people considered “like me.” 

1. I am more comfortable with those “like me.”
2. I am more inclined to spend time socially with those “like me.”
3. I am more patient with those “like me.”
4. I give the benefit of the doubt quicker to those “like me.”
5. I express more grace when mistakes are made by those “like me.”
6. It is easier to communicate with those “like me.”
7. I assume that I will get along easier with those “like me.”
8. I am more willing to go out of my way to help those “like me.”
9. I possess more positive assumptions about those “like me.” 

Out-group Discrimination: Withholding in-group bias from those “not like me.” 

1. I am less comfortable with those “not like me.”
2. I am less inclined to spend time socially with those “not like me.”
3. I am less patient with those “not like me.”
4. I give the benefit of the doubt less to those “not like me.”
5. I express less grace when mistakes are made by those “not like me.”
6. It is more difficult to communicate with those “not like me.”
7. I don’t assume that I will get along with those “not like me.”
8. I am less willing to go out of my way to help those “not like me.”
9. I possess less positive assumptions about those “not like me.” 

When we spend too much time surrounded by our in-group, it’s easy to think certain discriminations don’t exist. Pastor Miles uses the “right handed privilege” as an example that we just don’t understand what our out-group goes through. If we are right-handed, we don’t understand what left-handed people have to deal with. Does it make people bad because they’re right handed? No, they just have an advantage because that’s what culture has created. 

1. Acknowledge your blind spots.  
Jeremiah 17:9; 1 John 1:8-10 

There is a gap between your intent and your impact. One of the things you can do is to ask somebody if you are offensive in the things you say and do. 

  • 2. Rename “those people” as your “brother”/”sister.”
    No more “those people” 

  • Matthew 22:37-40 - 
    Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
  •  
  • 1 John 4:20 - If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Why is this important? Because when we label somebody with something other than neighbor, or brother, or sister, we begin to dehumanize them. We devalue them. And you just disqualified yourself from having to love them because you made it so they weren’t your neighbor. Imagine if everybody you saw, you called them your neighbor, and so loved them. 

3. Give “In-Group” love  to your “Out-Group.”
Matthew 5:43-44 

Pay attention to how you are more patient and kind, etc. with those that are in your in-group. Next time you’re at Starbucks, look at what in-group is predominant, go up to the person that’s in the out-group. And ask how you, as a child of God, can extend grace to them that we all extend to each other. 

4. Acknowledge your “brother’s”/”sister’s” color.
Galatians 6:2

You can’t say that you don’t see somebody’s color because well, it is actually there. When people get a tan, they want to show it off. But it’s amazing how if you get a tan in Hawaii it’s celebrated, but a tan in the womb is invalidated. All of a sudden “we don’t see it.” You are insulting God. He made that tan. God made everybody with a tan tint, called melanin. It can fade or increase. 

Culture would say you have 2 options: white people and people of color. But God would say, no there are only people of color. He has made a spectrum of color. Celebrate the creativity of God. You are the creativity God. 

5.View every “conversation” as a race “consultation.”
James 1:19

Allow people to self-disclose to you who they are instead of imposing on them what you think. Take the time to be a learner, not a judge.

6. Give your heart to your out-group.
John 15:13

Pastor Miles shares the story about a white NFL player giving his heart to a Panamanian baseball player. If we are so different, how is it that a white, 27-year-old kid can put his heart into a Balck Panamanian’s chest?

God has made one race in His image. We need to honor what we have in common. 

The Third Option

This 4-part series explores racism, and hope and healing for a racially divided nation. In Part 1, Pastor Miles defines racism and relays how we become divided and how we can overcome our disunion.

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