Pastor Miles McPherson challenges believers of all skin tones to consider the fact that grouping humans by skin color promotes racism, which hinders the gospel. He encourages us to treat every person like they truly were created in the image of God.
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John Fuller: Today, a question on why skin color divides us.
Miles McPherson: When you get a tan in Hawaii, it’s beautiful. When you get a tan in the womb, it’s criminalized. When you get a tan in the womb, it’s scary - it’s inferior.
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John: Today’s guest on Focus on the Family is Pastor Miles McPherson and he’s going to encourage all of us to see God’s image in everyone. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Pastor Miles is the senior pastor of The Rock Church in San Diego, and he’s one of my favorite pastors because he is out there trying to make a difference and build bridges in racially divided communities across the country. As a former player in the NFL, Miles has personally experienced racism and has witnessed its devastating effects. So we’re going to share a very fast-paced, insightful message from Pastor Miles today. And at the end, we’re gonna tell you how you can get involved in this mission to reach out to others across racial boundaries.
John: And here now, is Miles McPherson speaking at an Arc conference hosted by Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama. And we’re diving in after his opening remarks.
Miles: There’s a Japanese ancient art form called kintsugi. I probably pronounced it wrong. And in kintsugi, they take pottery that was broken and they bring it back together. They reassemble the pottery with gold. And they take all the pieces and put the pottery back together. And the belief is that the pottery that was repaired is more valuable than the original. Satan has done an amazing job at splitting us apart. And by the way, Satan’s the enemy. Not the white man, not the black man, not the poor, not the immigrants. Satan’s the enemy. Can I get an amen?
And Satan has done a great job of dividing us through different kinds of racism - personally mediated racism, one to another, white, black, Hispanic, Asian. It’s not a white-black thing only. It’s all of us - all around the world globally as well. Internalized racism, where people start to internalize the message that they have been told. There are people who have been told that they’re less than and now believe it, and they hate themself and their own culture. Internalized racism - you might not have heard of that. And then there’s institutional racism. There’s systems designed to keep people in place. The devil has done an amazing job of splitting us apart. But God...
...God - Jesus has this thing about bringing broken pieces together. Can I get amen? He has this thing about making things that were ugly - beautiful, broken - fixed. And He can’t do it and won’t do it except through us. We are His vehicle. It has to be us, but we have to do something different.
We have to move past the optics of diversity. You can have lots of colors and nationalities in your church and in your house, but they’re not in your heart. They could be in your room, but they’re not - you don’t have a ministry. You could have a diverse crowd but not a diverse ministry. So we want to move past churches ministering to neighborhoods where they feel comfortable and all the neighborhoods that God has given them. Don’t drive around - I had a prayer meeting in San Diego years ago, and I intentionally put it in the black community, and I had pastors driving there, and they said, “We never been to this part of town.” I said, “So you’re telling me you’d fly to Africa to minister the poor black people, but you won’t go 10 minutes right down the street?” Amen?
We have to get past where God says, “I’m gonna call you to go wherever.” And by the way, if you’re a black church in a black community, are you going to the Hispanic community right down the street? Or if you’re a Hispanic, are you going to the black church? It’s all of us. Can I get amen? It’s all of us. So we got to move past it. Let me give you some context of who I am and where I get this from. I have two black grandfathers from Jamaica - all my grandparents from Jamaica. I’m not gonna do this, though.
I got 40 jobs, brother, 40 jobs. And I got two - both my grandmothers - all my grandparents grew up in Jamaica. One grandmother was half Chinese, half black. The other grandmother was white. Her parents sent her from Jamaica West Indies. They didn’t want her to marry a black Jamaican, so they sent her to Jamaican New York where she met a black Jamaican.
I grew up in a black neighborhood, went to school in a white neighborhood. Because of this tan color, I was too dark for the white people, so I got called all those names. I was too light for the black people, so I got called all those names. So that’s why I’m learning Spanish.
My church is also as diverse as San Diego - my church is also diverse as San Diego. We are leaning into this. Two years ago, there was a shooting in San Diego. An immigrant from Uganda was shot by a police officer. It was filmed. It was put on TV for a week. Our city did this. And for a week the devil said, “You have to pick one of each side. You have to be against the police or for the police, for the black community - against the black community.” The devil gave you two options. In every race conversation, the devil’s only going to give you two options. And in those two options, you’re going to say - you’re going to be on one side against the other, fighting the other, and you have to pick. There’s a third option.
In Joshua - I’m gonna read this real quick - in Joshua chapter 5, Joshua’s leading the Jews into the Promised Land, it says in verse 13, “It came to pass when Joshua was by Jericho that he lifted his eyes up and looked and behold a man stood opposite him with a sword. And Joshua said to him, “Are you for us or our adversaries?” Angel, you have to pick a side. Are you on our side or this side? And you say, “Uh-uh, homie don’t do that. I don’t pick sides. I am the side.” So he said - he said - he said, “Are you for us?” And then he said, “No.” He said, “No, no. I ain’t against ya.” “Are you for us?” And he said, “No.” He said, “If you bow down” - I’m not going to read the whole thing - “you bow down and worship - the only way you going to get into the Promised Land, if you honor and worship the presence of God in your midst.” This is not about you. It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s about God. Can I get amen?
And so I want to talk to you about that because the third option is that we look at every single one of us. And by the way, saved or not saved people, people you don’t like, people you have nothing in common with, every single person - what do we have 100 percent in common? And by the way, we’re all 99.5 percent genetically the same. I’m not even talking about that. White, black, Asian, rich, poor, you’re 99.9 percent genetically exactly the same. But you are 100 percent the same that God has given the same image to every single one of us, amen.
And the image of God has the responsibility to acknowledge itself in other people. Image of God has the ability to acknowledge itself in other people. The image of God has the ability to walk with God, love with - like God, forgive like God, encourage like God, speak like God. We - we do God a disservice when we are racist or when we look down on people because we are looking at the image of God in someone else saying, “Your image is inferior to my image,” when that’s not biblical at all. That every single image is the same value because God can’t - God can’t look down on Himself. He’s the same yesterday, today, tomorrow. And He’s the same there, there, there, there, there, there in every single one of us.
And so I want to talk about how we got divided - here’s what I’m talking about - how we got divided and then how we can apply the third option and bring us back together. Sociologists call it - call our division grouping - in-group, out-group. Grouping is the way we sort people into either “like me” or “not like me”. This is a group, Christians, ministers. Senior pastors is a group. Megachurch senior pastors is another group. Women are a group. Men are a group. Youth pastors are a group. We’re all part of many groups. And when you’re in part of a group, you are intimately involved and intimately knowledgeable about your group.
Whatever group you’re not in, that’s called your out-group. You don’t know intimate information about that. That’s why we make ignorant statements about people we don’t know about. We - we say, “Those people,” because we don’t know and we’re ignorant, so we shouldn’t say anything. But that’s the out-group. But your in-group - you know all the intricacies of your in-group. There’s a thing called in-group bias.
In-group bias is when you look at people who are like you, whether it be by profession, by race, by look, and you give them preferential treatment. I’m gonna give you a list of some things, they’re gonna go on the screen. “I am more comfortable with those like me. I am more inclined to spend time socially with those like me. I am more patient with those like me. I give the benefit of the doubt quicker to those like me. I express more grace given when mistakes are made to those like me. It is easier to communicate with those like me. I assume I will get along easier with those like me. I am more willing to get - I go out of my way to help those like me. I possess more positive assumptions about those like me.” Say amen if that makes sense.
Miles: Out-group is the opposite. There’s out-group discrimination. Out-group discrimination is withholding in-group bias against people. Why? Because they’re not part of your group. “I am less comfortable with those not like me. I am less inclined to spend time socially with those not like me. I am less patient with those not like me. I give the benefit of doubt slower to those not like me. I express less grace when mistakes are made by those not like me. It is more difficult to communicate with those not like me. I don’t assume you will get - I will get along with those not like me. I am less willing to go out of my way to help those not like me. I possess less positive assumptions about those not like me.”
Listen, people say, “Well, I’m a racist or I’m not a racist. You only got two choices.” Here’s your third choice. Your third choice is you’re human and you can work better at being unbiased. But you can say, “You know what? Maybe I do give a little preferential treatment to people who look like me better than people who don’t because I feel more comfortable with them.” That’s fine. You may not have a white sheet or whatever form of racism your people - whatever your people are - express, all of us, but the outgrowth is if I walk into a room and someone’s going to give me less patience and less grace, I don’t care what you call it. It ain’t good.
I had a lady come up to me, she said - and this story’s in the book - I had a lady come up to me, she said, “Why can’t you just get over it?” I said - I said, “Here’s what I want you to do,” and I created this thing called the walk-in-my-shoes field trip.
I said - this was a white lady, and she’s a dear friend, I love her to death. She speaks - God speaks to her through me, okay? You cannot know these things and be a very nice person, but then you need to learn.
I said, “Why don’t you go to a place where you are the only white person just for 10 minutes? Just try it.” She’s like, “Well, well, well.” She did it. She did it. And I had all these questions I want you to ask. I said, “I want you to tell me how you felt when I asked you, how you felt when you were driving there, how you felt when you were there. How did people treat you? Did what you fear happen? Did it happen?” And I wrote all this stuff down. And she (unintelligible) - I had six people, by the way, and two of them said, “No.” And one guy went on 10 minutes why he wouldn’t go. And actually - and I actually had him write a paragraph to put in the book to tell why he didn’t want - he said, “You know, even if I went to a black church, I would feel uncomfortable like I had to leave right away.” That breaks my heart. And when people say, “Can’t you get over it?” I’m like, “You have been living amidst your in-group. You flow in your in-group all day and night. You are getting preferential treatment over the out-group all day and night, so you don’t understand what it means to have that, ‘not like me’ every day.” I want you to flip the script in this room - most of the people in this room are white - I want you to flip it. I want you to make believe that all the people who are in this room that are white are not white and then all the people who are not white are white. Do y’all follow what I’m saying? And I wonder how many of you white people would come here. I wonder if you would had registered to come. Said, “That’s not my crowd.” Why? We’re here. We’re walking in the midst of out-group. Are y’all following what I’m saying? You have to - you have to in your mind - you have to in your mind think why - how does that make me feel? Why does it make me feel that way? Because that’s where God can work. Does that make you a racist? Absolutely not, necessarily. It just means, “Hey, I got - that’s something I can learn.” You can go today and go someplace and say, “Listen,” - and don’t think - don’t go automatically to “I’ve got to go to danger zone.”
God put His image in all kinds of shades and wonderful people. And because it’s an out-group, you may only have anecdotal information. And so you generalize. And you see stuff on TV and someone told you this, but you have no personal experience. That’s where relationship - Pastor Chris talked about - touch. Hey, I’ll be right here after. Come touch me.
Come touch me.
John: You’re listening to Pastor Miles McPherson on Focus on the Family, and you can get his brand new book on this topic called,, when you make a generous donation of any amount. Do so by calling 800-A-FAMILY - 800-232-6459, or make that donation and request the book at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Let’s return now to Miles McPherson.
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Miles: Dr. Steven Jones of San Diego wrote this article called “The Right Hand of Privilege”. This country was designed for right-handed people, literally. Most people are right-handed. I’m left-handed. So because I’m left-handed, I got to go - you know what I’m saying? Who’s left-handed? Amen?
Okay. So - so you can’t just go get golf clubs anyplace. You got to go - you got to go to an extra store, I can’t get (unintelligible). When you’re at school, it’s a right-handed desk, and you’re like this. Are you following me? So you got to go through extra steps. I want you to imagine if your in-group - just because - made a right-handed culture, but you’re left-handed, so you have to live in a right-handed culture. It’s not - it’s not the same. And so you’re walking in a right-handed culture and because you’re right-handed, everything - what’s the problem? Well, the right-handed people go, “I don’t see the problem. I don’t see the problem. Everything fits. I can buy everything. I don’t know why - what are you talking about? What are you worried about?”
Miles: And then someone comes up, says, “I can’t use that desk. I can’t - I can’t use that glove. I can’t use those gloves. I can’t - I can’t find it, so I got to go on Amazon and order. It won’t come here, it’s too far.” Four things I want to give you, just to respect time, four things. Four things I want you to do. Please put these down, write these down: rename everybody you see as your brother and your sister. Why? Look what it says in Matthew chapter - God hit me with this - Matthew chapter 22:37, you shall love your Lord, the God, with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the great - first and great commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Everyone say neighbor.
Miles: First John 4:20, if someone says I love God and hates his brother - say brother.
Miles: Say sister.
Miles: If you say - you’re a liar for he does not - how does he not love his brother, sister. Say brother, sister.
Audience: Brother, sister.
Miles: Whom he has seen, but he can’t - how can he love God he has not seen? Now the Bible says, clearly, you have to love your neighbor, your brother as yourself. Can I get amen?
Miles: No more commandment, if you can’t do that, everything else is nullified. But what if they’re not your brother? What if you rename them?
Audience Member: Oh, wow.
Miles: Oh! They’re not like you. They’re not - they’re not like you. They’re down here. When I used to watch cowboys and Indian movies, they always called the Indians savages. They weren’t people. They were down here. Blacks were called animals. Down here - even when they had the thing in Charlottesville, they were saying that - down here. So if you’re not - if you call someone an N-word or a white privilege or an illegal or an Arab or whatever you call people, as soon as you do that, you give yourself permission not to love them.
Audience Member: Oh! That’s right!
Miles: Because you just changed their identification.
So therefore, I need to be your brother because the devil is the enemy, not me. And you’re my brother. And the devil - you’re not my enemy; the devil is your enemy. Can I get amen?
Number two - number two, give in-group love to your out-group. Next time you’re around people who don’t look like you - and by the way, this applies to all kinds of stuff, it’s just the Bible - next time - all kinds! Next time you’re in a place and you see someone that’s not like you - and by the way, they may be the only one not like you in the whole room - think about the illustration about the ARC Conference, if you were the only white person in this room.
Next time you’re in a situation, whatever the situation is - black, white, Hispanic, Asian, you may be the minority and there’s one white person, one Hispanic person, give them the same grace that you give your people. Think about that.
Number three, see my color. Stop saying you don’t see color.
Hey, when you go out and get a tan - I go to Hawaii every year, I get a tan - yes, we tan - I get a tan in Hawaii and it looks really good, I go to tan, and ladies, you get a tan, you’re dating a guy, you want to date a guy, you get a tan, and you come to work, you spent five days in Hawaii getting your brown on, and then you come with your little spaghetti strap and you’re walking around work saying, “See my brown, see my brown.” And for five days, the dude you’re trying to get attention to says nothing about your tan, and you’re like, “Do you not see my tan?” And he says to you, “I don’t see color.”
That ain’t happening. When you get a tan in Hawaii, it’s beautiful. When you get a tan in the womb, it’s criminalized.
When you get a tan in the womb, it’s scary. It’s inferior. I am not saying that all y’all think that. I’m saying this is the difference. When you say you don’t see color, you are nullifying not only the color but the burden that comes with the color. You’re nullifying the experience of being in the out-group. And so if you say - and when people - when the first people said that to me, said, “I don’t see your color,” I was like - I really thought they didn’t see red, green, brown. I was like, “That’s so sad. Everything’s grey?” I don’t get it. I didn’t understand. And they were like, “No, no, I don’t see your color.” And I was like, “Well, how do you know even to say that to me if you don’t see it?”
So I’m confused. So then I said, “Well, what color am I? I mean, did you make me like you? I want to be like me. And I want you to be like you.”
I was watching Sanford and Son - Sanford and Son...
Y’all know Sanford and Son? Oh, my goodness. How many y’all don’t know Sanford and Son? You’re probably young. You don’t know - okay, Sanford and Son - I want you - I don’t know how you can be over 30 years old and not know who Fred G. Sanford is.
Fred G. Sanford - I just want you to - okay, so Redd Foxx was a comedian, African-American comedian, and he was raunchy, and he was, he was just hilarious. But he had a show that was on TV, so it was relatively clean, and he was a junk man in South Central Los Angeles. And there two cops that always came to the house. One cop was black. One cop was white. And the black cop had to always interpret to the white cop what Fred was saying.
It’s hilarious. It was great. It’s hilarious. And the white cop was very formal, and he would talk straight. And he would say, “So someone robbed Fred G. Sanford’s house?” And he said, “Mr. Sanford, was the perpetrator colored?” And he goes, “Yeah, he was colored white.”
The devil says you have two options: white people and people of color. God says, “No, no, no. I made all y’all colored. And I made all your color to be beautiful.” Everyone say “I am beautiful.”
Audience: I am beautiful.
Miles: End of story. You white people are beautiful. You black people are beautiful. You brown people are beautiful. Everyone’s beautiful. That’s it.
Fourthly, give me your heart. I don’t want to say me, just give each other our heart. Rod Carew is a Panamanian baseball player. He’s older, so a lot of y’all might not know him. But he was Panamanian. If you saw him on the street, you’d think he was black, so he’s black Panamanian. He had a 328 batting average, 3,000 hits, 18 time All-Star, Rookie of the Year. He was the man. He was the man. And I grew up on Rod Carew. When he was 71, he had a heart attack, and he needed a heart and a kidney. At the time, there was a 27-year-old white tight end NFL, played at Stanford, named Konrad. And Konrad went into a coma. And Konrad, in the coma, his mother put her head on his chest, says, “Baby, you’re going to get up one day. I’m going to see your heart again.” Well, Konrad died. And right before Konrad died, he gave his body, his organs, to be donated. And Rod Carew got his heart. So Rod Carew calls Konrad’s mother - Konrad’s mother calls Rod Carew, “You have my son’s heart.” Rod Carew says, “Do you want to come listen to your son’s heart?” He goes over to the house, and she puts her chest on Rod Carew’s chest, hears her son’s heart again. When Konrad was 11-years-old, he met Rod Carew. And he came home and said, “Mom, I’m going to be a professional athlete because I met my hero.” How is it that a white man’s heart can be in a Panamanian black man if we’re so different? I’m going to end with a story.
Let me end with a story. There was a guy who was hunting in the woods and he saw this monster coming at him. And the monster was a hundred yards away, and he was trying to get a good shot. And it kept getting closer and closer. It was behind a tree. It was behind a rock. It was behind a tree. It was behind a rock. And he said, “I can’t - this thing’s going to kill me. I got to shoot it.” And next thing you know, the monster was right here, and then he realized it wasn’t a monster. It was his brother. There’s no monsters in here. There are people who do bad things. And by the way, they look all kinds of shades. But we’re not monsters. And when I say we - we, God made us in His image so we can honor Him, glorify Him, love like Him, encourage like Him, speak life like Him into Himself and other people. And if we can understand and realize and see each other as brothers and sisters and that we are all one family, then God can bring this broken, fractured nation back together.
Lord, Jesus, thank you so much for Your faithfulness. Thank you for Your goodness. We honor You and praise You in Jesus’ name, amen. Thank you very much.
John: Pastor Miles McPherson getting a standing ovation from pastors and other leaders gathered at an Arc conference in Alabama earlier this year.
Jim: What a passionate plea for unity, John. You know, I had lunch with Pastor Miles recently, and when he shared his heart on this issue, I knew we had to share it with our listeners and support this very important effort to bring shalom into the chaos of racial tension in this culture. Pastor Miles is right on the money when he asks each one of us to see God’s image in our neighbor no matter what their color. How could we do any less? And I can empathize more today than maybe a few years ago with this whole issue. Um, so often, we need to open our ears to what other people are experiencing. It doesn’t have to be a Latino, black, white issue. It’s just, what are they encountering in the culture? For example, we have a board member who’s African-American, and he was explaining to me the phrase, “Driving while black.” I had no concept of that. And he said, “When you have boys,” which you know, he does, he said, “you have to sit down, explain to your boys, ‘Okay, this is what will happen to you. You’re gonna be pulled over, and when you do, you put your hands on the wheel. An officer will come up.’“ And I said, “Well, why is that any different from other people being pulled over?” And he said, “Because we tend to be more targeted.” He said, “I own a pick-up truck - an old, beat-up pick-up truck - I use around, you know, the acreage we have. And then I own a Mercedes. I never get pulled over in the old, beat-up pick-up truck. Because it fits. But when I’m in my Mercedes, the officers will pull me over because they think maybe I’m a drug dealer or something.” We don’t have that concept.
John: There’s profiling and stereotyping.
Jim: Yeah, and I know some are going to say that, “Jim, that’s baloney.” But folks, this is the point: open your ears. Hear what is happening, especially for those of us in the white community. We need to better understand. We can get down to the detail - is it right or wrong? And those kinds of things. But let’s have an ear to hear what’s going on. And I think when we do that, we actually build a bridge, and we are expressing the very commandment that Jesus gave us, and that is to love your neighbor. And uh, those are the things that are most important.
If you’ve been inspired to take action, I’ve got a couple of recommendations for you. First, get your church involved in the free two-hour simulcast that Miles is hosting this coming Saturday, September 15th, at noon, Eastern Time. We’ll provide a link to that event at our website so that you can check it out and encourage your pastor to sign up the church. Secondly, get a copy of Miles’ book,. You can get it right here from us at Focus on the Family. It’s being released tomorrow and we can send it out to you for a donation of any amount as our way of saying thank you.
John: Just give us a call. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY - 800-232-6459, or donate online and requestat focusonthefamily.com/radio. And when you’re online with us, look for a link to The Race for Unity simulcast.
If you enjoyed today’s program, please tell a friend to tune in next time when Dr. Tim Keller helps us to understand how suffering can be used for good in our lives.
Tim Keller: The Bible’s constantly talking about how suffering is a - a refining fire, and we’re like the metal ore that goes through and we come the other side more pure.
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