Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

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It is rare that you can some up a whole episode in one word. But this last Candid Conversation could be summed up in one word: Relationships.

Former NFL player and current pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego Miles McPherson expertly answered questions from Initiative Network Founder Grant Skelton and Exponential President & CEO Todd Wilson on what is one of the most pressing issues for us to deal with — racial reconciliation — in the second episode of Candid Conversations about Civil Conversations: Rules of Engagement.

“Honor what we have a common… Start at we are the same, the image of God”

While we can easily find many minor common grounds, those will inevitably just draw to the fact we are part of more affinity groups than just that of skin color. Miles pointed this out from his previous career in the NFL — he has football in common with a lot of people, but if someone comes to him from the hockey world there can be contention. Instead, we need to focus on our underlying common thread that we are created in the image of God. This image is present in all people, and when we focus instead on our minor commonalities, no matter what they are, we will then strip away the image of God from others when we get to our differences.

“The goal is the relationship. Winning the argument is the worst premise to have.”

Issues revolving around problematic words, or the lowering of issues to two-sided arguments, keeps driving us to want to be right. Is there a way to do this? Miles pointed out during the interview this is the worst goal to have. Where does winning an argument get you? When we come to win, our heart is already deceiving us. We were not called to win, because Christ already has, we are called to love. (Jeremiah 17:9 — “The heart is deceitful above all things.”)

In dealing with issues of race, or tribalism, we need to go into all encounters coming to love. When we love, we will add to the presumptions people have. Everyone already has a personal narrative and worldview, Miles pointed out. These issues cause us to make assumptions about people; when we go into relationship with them first, we force them to add our uniqueness to their view of our affinity groups. This will begin to break down their prejudices and force a more Kingdom-minded and inclusive worldview.

“Even if his mind is focused on hate, his heart is designed to receive the love of Christ.”

Ultimately what we are dealing with in the world of racial reconciliation and communicating with those who disagree with us is hate. We have become entrenched in our side of every argument, and become blind to why the other person is on that side. Our deceitful hearts push us into a hateful view of an opposing side. And the exact thing is happening on the other side, too. But in relationship and love, we see something different.

“Even if his mind is focused on hate, his heart is designed to receive the love of Christ,” Miles said.

We need to go for the heart, not the mind. We move past our deceit, to the King. Then we take the King of our hearts and give Him away. Let the love of Christ overwhelm us to overwhelm where their minds are focused. If we are the image of God (which we are), then we need to fill us and others with the love that is the image of God. Then we can agree in love.

What Miles was saying was simple — it is all about relationships. Relationships give us the right to be in these conversations. The problem is it is not always easy. We will always be tempted to be right more than we will be to be righteous. But if we want a way forward, it will only be found in love.

We are better together!

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:22-23

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