(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Sukup)
Behind The Book: The Third Option – Revive
An Interview with Miles McPherson
By Sarah Komisky
Miles McPherson is on a mission to advocate racial reconciliation. However, it’s his approach that might surprise you. In comes the Third Option. Here is a continued look into his most recent book as Sarah Komisky sits down with the author, former NFL football player, and the pastor of The Rock Church San Diego for our newest issue, “Revive.”
Sarah: I want to talk about media consumption. I like that you posed the questions, “Ask yourself if what you’re watching or listening to helps or hinders your ability to love your neighbor. Does it make you feel more justified in your biases, or does it foster a sense of compassion in your heart?” How can we apply these questions to our everyday lives?
Miles: You get to choose what you fill your mind with. Choose to fill it with information that builds up people rather than tears them down. Don’t make it harder on yourself to love your neighbor. Challenge information that causes division and cut ties to any influence that dishonors, rather than honors, your neighbor.
Sarah: From a faith perspective, keeping Christ at the center of our lives is integral to every part of it. In this time of racial tension and division, it can be easy to elevate what culture says and to deviate from Christ as our point of reference. So, how can we keep Christ the center of our lives and look to Him first for answers in a time of division?
Miles: Some of the greatest heroes of our faith overcame culture’s temptation to buy into the us-versus-them mentality. One example in the Old Testament is Joshua. As Joshua prepared for the battle of Jericho, he asked an approaching messenger of the Lord to identify whose “side” he was on:
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14)
In this passage, the Lord’s messenger offered Joshua a way out of culture’s trap by giving him a Third Option. Joshua responded to the presence of God in humility and obedience, and reaped the benefits of God’s blessings in return. God personally intervened on Joshua’s behalf to deliver him an overwhelming victory at Jericho, because Joshua decided to choose the Third Option.
Choosing the Third Option in our hearts and culture isn’t easy; it requires intentionality, a prayerful commitment to obedience, and wholehearted trust in God’s provision. But I promise you it’s worth the effort. When we choose the Third Option, God Himself will deliver us from an us-versus-them mentality that prevents us from honoring the presence of His image in ourselves and in others.
Sarah: You just launched “We Pray San Diego” where you invited all people to come and pray for an hour. The turnout was amazing. In an interview, you talked about how we need healing in our hearts first before change can occur. Share on what that means to you.
Miles: This is a critical time in history. Our country and even the world is being torn apart by fear, hatred and injustice. We see this everywhere from the politics surrounding COVID-19 to the recent killing of George Floyd. We can make new laws or even force people to stay in their homes; however, if people’s hearts aren’t changed by God, we will continue to repeat the destructive behavior from our past over and over again. We Pray San Diego was an opportunity for people to be unified in our cry to God for restoration in our hearts, in our city, the country and our world.
Sarah: Forgiveness. It is in your book and it is so needed today. How can we be more forgiving as people when it comes to racial reconciliation?
Miles: Many people confuse forgiveness with approval of an offensive or harmful act. Others have the false idea that forgiveness erases accountability. Neither of these concepts captures the real nature of forgiveness.
Forgiveness means that you no longer hold someone responsible for healing the pain of an offense toward you.
Forgiveness is the desire to look past an offense and see a person acting in a way that’s inconsistent with the character potential God has placed in them.
Forgiveness is embracing the reality that someone may have done something to you out of fear and not out of the courage they’re capable of expressing.
Forgiveness recognizes that they may have acted out of ignorance or hatred, rather than the understanding or love they were designed by God to express.
In other words, forgiveness looks past what a person did and focuses, instead, on who they were meant to be.
Forgiveness is an expression of the heart of God toward someone who hasn’t earned it. It stems from an overflow of the realization that none of us deserves God’s grace, mercy, or love.
Forgiveness is possible because we were created in the image of a God who forgives us. Moreover, it’s required of all who claim Him as Lord, as a precondition to receiving God’s forgiveness in our own lives.
Countless offenses and counter offenses have broadened the racial divide in our communities. In order to stop the cycle and move toward healing and unity, someone has to say I’m sorry. And when they do, the response consistent with the image of God is, I forgive you. Both the apology and forgiveness are consistent with loving our neighbor and honoring the image of God in ourselves and in others. Refusing to apologize, and refusing to accept an apology, are dishonoring to the heart of God—a God who models unconditional forgiveness toward us.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
The “bandwagon effect” is the tendency for people to believe and do things because other people believe and do those things. Just as we follow the lead of those who dishonor and stereotype people, we can follow the lead of those who apologize and forgive. Someone Needs to set an example. Why not us? Or, more specifically, why not you?
By taking a step toward apologizing or forgiving someone, you could single handedly establish a new bandwagon effect rooted in love and honor. Imagine how much healing and unity could occur as a result of your one step of obedience in this regard!
Find out more about Pastor Miles and “The Third Option” by visiting milesmcpherson.com