Matthew 14:25–30 (ESV)25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Pastor Chris starts this 2-part message with a question for us in an exploring our attitudes about people different from us: “Where are your eyes?” Where our eyes go will set the trajectory of our life. Peter, the disciple, did something no other human has ever done, he walked on water – then he took his eyes off of Jesus and began sinking.
What are the three options? Society usually presses us to choose one of two sides. “Are you for or against <fill-in issue, cause, political party, ethnicity, etc>?” But, God offers another option: Look to Jesus.
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” Joshua 5:13–14
2 And he [Jonah] prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Jonah 4:2
Racism starts as a spiritual problem. A problem of choosing between two options – a false dichotomy. The gospel, as it changes human hearts, is the right, and only, response to racial division. This third option opens our eyes to see the way God sees us.
4 Points on the Third Option
- Made in the Image of God (Imago Dei) – every human is equally made in His likeness; to demean and deny the value of any person is to demean and deny the glory of God
- Reconciled with God – every human is born in depravity and first need to be right with God
- Reconciled with One Another – once reconciled with God, we are called to the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ with people all around us. Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God to build a bridge between people in this world.
See: 2 Corinthians 5:21
- God’s Deepest Desire: Unity – the world is watching to see the church in-love with each other, that’s how they will be attracted to the gospel that brings reconciliation
A Great Multitude from Every Nation
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10
Chris reminds us that we don’t know what we don’t know. We must be humble, open our hearts to God’s way – His active, not passive, way to see ourselves and improve. He takes a cue from Pastor Miles McPherson of The Rock church in San Diego, CA. Pastor Miles takes up this issue in his book and message series challenging the church to choose the third option.
- I claim that I don’t have a racist bone in my body, but resist letting certain people get too close to my family.
- I claim all people are equal, but in my heart I believe that my ethnicity is superior to others.
- I claim all people are equal, but I feel and act inferior to certain people because I have internalized the views of my critics.
- I resent being the victim of discrimination and stereotyping, but have no problem doing it to others.
- I claim all people are God’s children but treat some like they belong to another family.
- I claim to acknowledge many perspectives in life, but I’m not really willing to learn from any views that challenge mine.
- I’m an unintentional participant in a bigoted system, so I am insulated from the guilt of the bigotry.
- I claim that because racism doesn’t impact me, it doesn’t exist – or at least to the degree that people say it does.
- I don’t have any blind spots. I see just fine. (“Nice to meet you, Jesus”).
- How have you felt pressed by our culture (social media, news media, or entertainment media) to choose sides?
- What do you suppose is the worldly person’s answer to solving racism, especially in America?
How does the Third Option provide a way for believers to change people’s attitudes about race?
- What more might we do in church to bring true, biblical unity among people of all backgrounds?
- Review the list of Blind Spots. Ask God to help you be humble and candid with your responses. Consider sharing what you learned about yourself with someone you trust. Pray for change.
- Find ways that you can be an active participant in being a “third option ambassador” to the people God has put in your circle of influence.