This quote from Shakespeare’s famous, “To be or not to be, that is the question” certainly is a divisive one in our nation right now. Several dozen football players from numerous teams are protesting the racial inequity they perceive in our nation by refusing to stand for the national anthem, instead, “taking a knee.” I don’t want to argue the point. I believe Americans have a right to protest what they believe is unjust. I believe it needs to be done respectfully, without stepping on the sacrifices of others.
Here’s the thought I have been pondering, however. Lebron James posted a picture of himself holding a Cavalier’s T-shirt emblazoned with this thought: “Stand for the flag, kneel at the cross.” I am a very loyal American, and I personally would never refuse to stand for the flag, take off my hat, and show the utmost respect that I can. With all of its flaws and failures, I am glad I live here rather than any other place on the planet. I am unwilling to show anything but respect for the flag that represents the country and the freedoms that my father and so many others risked and gave their lives to defend. But, that’s me. I won’t fight over the way another person regards the flag, but I, personally, will always stand for the flag.
However, there is a point of truth bigger than me, which I don’t believe is a matter of personal opinion. It’s the second part of the shirt’s statement: “Kneel at the cross.” The Word of God, history, and life experience itself tells me that humbling ourselves before God is the key to healthy self-identity, unity with others, and the resolution of our differences, racial and otherwise.
Most of the social media posts and newscasts/talk shows we hear are simply trumpeting personal opinions, personal desires, and believing they are truth. We all seem to want to protect our own “tribe” and the things that serve us best. God’s perspective speaks to our “me and mine first and most” drive with great candor and specificity:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very natureGod,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”Philippians 2:5-8
For by the grace [of God] given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].Romans 12:3
Can you imagine how the world would change if we operated like that? If I was more concerned that YOUR needs were met than mine, if YOUR needs were more important to me than mine, and I actually lived that out? How about if you returned that attitude? You would be making sure MY needs and desires got priority. We would be engaged in an effort to out-serve each other.
Try it at your home. Try it in your marriage. At your work. With your neighbors. At church. The God who made us, loves us most, knows how we work, has designed that our greatest fulfillment, individually and in our “tribes,” comes from adopting this perspective. No one who actually works this strategy finds it to fail.
To stand or not to stand? You can answer for yourself about that. But there’s no question about kneeling. We are called to kneel, not in protest, but in surrender to Christ and humility toward others.