“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
This past weekend has been the most disappointing weekend of the NFL I have ever experienced. It's not because my team lost, they didn't. It is because POTUS, the players, owners, coaches, and many others got into a war of words and knees and decided to throw offensive lineman sized tantrums that spread all over my television screen. How should a Christian think about this debacle?
First, let's set the field, Christians hold citizenship in multiple locals. We are citizens of heaven first and foremost. We are also citizens in this world. Most who read this blog post will be citizens of the United States of America. That said, my citizenship of my country is a distant second in importance. The same was true of the apostle Paul who certainly used his Roman citizenship to his advantage, but was more concerned about the gospel of Jesus Christ and his citizenship in heaven then he was his Roman citizenship. At the time Rome was the greatest country in the world, or it would have been perceived as such. We really don't have clear records of what Paul did and did not participate in regarding his allegiance to Rome. What we do know is that he wasn't traveling from town to town preaching the gospel of Rome, he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should do the same.
Second, I personally find the practice of kneeling during the national anthem as disrespectful of the flag and the country. I also find the rhetoric of POTUS, well, un-presidential and offensive. The president often sounds more like a playground bully than a president. The best way to take away the power of a bully isn't to get in a fight, that's what he wants. The best way to take away the power of a bully is to take away his voice, ignore him. I know that is too much to ask of a league of alpha-males who are accustom to being the bully or at least they are accustomed to having the power and strength that scares the bully.
Third, it should be noted that the NFL players don't actually have the right to kneel during the anthem. The NFL and the teams have the right to control the speech of the players while those players are representing them. This is not a constitutional issue. In fact, this is done on a regular and consistent basis. For instance when Dallas wanted to put a small sticker on the helmets commemorating 5 slain police officers the NFL said no. When a player wore a "Know Jesus, Know peace" shirt to a press conference the NFL threatened to fine him. On numerous other occasions the NFL has controlled the speech of its players, often on seemingly benign issues. Further, it is in the rule book that the players stand for the anthem. It is not in the rule book that Dallas can't put an extra sticker on their helmet commemorating 5 slain peace officers. The constitution guarantees that the government cannot control speech, it does not guarantee that employers cannot control the speech of their employees, especially while at work and representing the company.
Fourth, what is this protest about again, I forgot. I thought it was about police shooting black people, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. It looks a lot like an argument between two people that got heated and neither of them can even remember how it all started. Someone needs to take the high road and end the mindless bickering.
Last, no one is going to win. POTUS looks childish and the NFL is losing fans and support...they are close to losing me. I will stand with my hand over my heart when the national anthem is played, but I do not worship my country, that is reserved for the God of the Bible. There is that pesky commandment about not worshiping other gods. As a Christian I must obey that commandment.
Oh, I almost forgot to answer the question. Would Jesus stand or kneel? I don't know for sure, but my guess is that he would give to Cesar what is Cesar's and stand. Jesus would find a platform to call out all involved. POTUS for his bloviating and the NFL for their hypocrisy. Or, more likely, he would just call people to repent and enter the kingdom of God putting their faith and trust in Him.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.