Music is Played. Knees are bowed. Stands are taken. Words are spoken.
But our nation is not healed. Only more divided.
I have wondered how the church may bring healing, From where will our help come?
Then in the midst of this division, as the anthem played, Justin Houston bowed his head in prayer.
“I feel like people are complaining about kneeling and people are complaining about standing, but I feel like it’s pointless,” Justin Houston said. “They’re not changing anything, and I feel like prayer changes everything. … Prayer is power. So I believe if we pray together, the more we get together, we come together as one in prayer, we can make a change.” (Click here to read the KC STAR article.)
I can understand negative reaction to the anthem protests. For most of us sports is an escape. We let go of reality and cheer. It isn’t the time we want a lecture – especially not from millionaires playing a game. More importantly, while the anthem and flag represent our nation, it is hard for anyone to understand their value to those who served.
But I also see the other side. Violence and racism are still dark powers in our country. Something needs to be done. How can we create a groundswell of change unless everyone steps forward to help? Who better to lead this change than the people we rejoice over every Sunday.**
**Pastors must help, but lets be honest, people are not rejoicing over me every Sunday 😉
Here is the rub. You will automatically agree with one of the sides I described and reject the other. We live in a time without middle ground and without grace for the other side. It is us versus them. We defend our side and declare the other evil. We are a nation that justifies Neo Nazi and Antifa (depending on our party affiliation) and see the other side as only those extremes.
It was through this divisive lens the nation viewed Colin Kaepernick. If we could step back and see clearly, when he took a knee he wasn’t being blatantly hostile. In some ways a bowed knee is anything but defiant (it is submission, a bow before authority, a quarterback giving up on a play). But there is no middle ground in today’s United States, so taking a knee was the same as raising the middle finger.
It didn’t matter that Kaepernick was a Christian, passionate about justice, giving millions to social causes (like Meals on Wheels). In land without middle ground, he was pushed to one side. His act could not be a bow of welcome, it must be a declaration of hate.
Watching this division grow worse, watching people try to exacerbate the divide, I long for a way to heal to our nation. I want to bring healing between black and white. Poor and rich. Old and young. Democrats and Republicans. Between those who stand and those who kneel.
I know the church is commissioned for something even greater than our class or party or nationality. We must let go and love, because Christ longs to save everyone. Every race, gender, party, education level, class, nationality…
I was sick on Sunday. Rather than preaching, I was in bed – in and out of sleep – recovering from an ugly night. I read the words. And the reaction. I kept longing for something else. Longing for unity. And this morning I read about Justin Houston. And I had a vision of a world joining him.
I hope we will bow before the One who stands for us. From Him our help will come.