“Take a knee… people riot. Take a bullet… people quiet.”
These are the bold words posted by rapper Lecrae on Twitter two years ago regarding NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of racial inequality. Not much has changed today. Talking about this is not easy and with the exception of a few loud radicals on both sides of the issue, many Christians are quiet and do not know what to do or would rather remain distant.
But, aren’t we supposed to be the ones who love our neighbors and who care for the poor, the oppressed and the outcast, even if it means speaking out and getting uncomfortable or hated? Wasn’t the parable of the Good Samaritan a wildly unprecedented story about loving others that flew in the face of the religious institution of the time?
Taking insult off the pedestal
The main cause of outrage regarding kneeling during the Anthem is that it is disrespectful to the nation. Without taking a position on whether that is true, let’s pose the question: is this really worth all the division and the hatred?
Jesus calls on us to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul and might and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He says that everything else hangs on these two commands.
When we curse and hate and demonize others for a brief, harmless action of expression, do we embody even a fraction of what Jesus called us to do?
Is putting the love of a nation before the commandments of the Lord the right thing to do? Look, we won’t pretend the issue is simple. The view that some people have of the flag is held equivocal with the sacrifices that men and women make for the freedom of this nation. This is not wrong. The view that other people have of the flag is it is a representation of a nation that has failed to treat all of its citizens fairly and actively oppresses certain people groups. This is also not wrong. Neither way does it mean that soldiers hate those the feel oppressed or that those that feel oppressed hate the soldiers. These are not the indicative truths we should draw from this issue.
People can have their independent views of the flag and what it means, but it’s time to take the insult of an action, like Kaepernick kneeling, off the pedestal and to work together to find a solution to the bigger issues at hand.
Those who foam at the mouth about NFL players kneeling may be surprised to find out that they have more in common with their brothers and sisters on the other side of the issue than they may think. If only we took the time to talk with one another instead of demonizing each other from a distance, maybe our feet would actually discover the path to love and making the world a better place.
No one is asking anyone to stop loving their nation. But, you should love your neighbor more.