Even if you’re not a football fan, you’ve probably heard that every team in the NFL protested in some form prior to Sunday’s games during The National Anthem.
Teams reacted in various ways. Some took a knee during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Others locked arms in a show of solidarity, including some team owners who joined them. Other teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, and Seattle Seahawks stayed in the locker room while the Anthem was performed.
Last night the Dallas Cowboys took a different twist. They walked to the middle of the field with flamboyant owner Jerry Jones and briefly knelt as a team. Then walked to the sidelines and locked arms during the playing of The National Anthem.
But what does it all mean? What are they standing for? Or kneeling for?
It seems that the message is a bit muddled.
When former San Francisco quarterback, Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee last year it was to protest what he believed was the “incredible number of black people being shot by police.” At one point he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” By the way, this was a man who wore socks depicting police officers as pigs.
But what about the recent protests over the weekend? Is it about police brutality? Social injustice? The stained past of our nation’s history regrading slavery? Surely it can’t be the oppression of multi-millionaire African American athletes, can it? Maybe it was a protest against President Donald Trump’s bombastic and crude language over the weekend in Alabama about owners firing players who took a knee?
There is a bit of irony to this. I remember a few years ago another player who took a knee. Not during the National Anthem. But before or after a game. His name is Tim Tebow. Everyone understood why. It was his way to pay tribute to his faith. And to honor Jesus. He did so without disrespecting anyone else. Or our country.
While today’s players are praised for their protests, Tebow was widely criticized for his faith, especially from the far left and secular media. Ironic, isn’t it? It was wrong, according to some, for Tebow to quietly mix religion and faith with a sporting event. But it is acceptable to overtly disrespect our county and the flag for social and political causes.
We indeed live in a confused culture. One that has lost its moral compass on so many levels. There are real issues that divide us. Differing positions that have polarized our country by political party, race or religious convictions.
For Christians, the answer is to respond in a measured, Biblical, Christ-centered way. Whether you take a knee or not, be clear where you stand. And who you stand up for.
(1) Let’s be sure that our speech is “gracious, seasoned with salt,” whether in person or on facebook (Col. 4;6).
(2) Reflect the light of Christ that others may see our good works and give glory to God. Let’s be a beacon of light in a world of darkness. (Matt. 5:14-16)
(3) Demonstrate respect, honor, and esteem for all people created in the image of God (1Pet. 2:17)
(4) Treat other people, even those with whom you disagree, the way you want to treated (Matt. 7:12).
(5) You may want to take a knee and pray for those in authority that we may continue to enjoy peace and prosperity. (1Tim. 2:1-2). While on your knee, you may want to pray for your enemies. Our nation. Your family. The lost. The church. And those with whom you’re in disagreement.
(6) Be clear that your primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ, not a political party or partisan position. (Ax 4:12; 5:29).
I don’t know the religious background of Alejandro Villanueva, the lone Pittsburgh Steeler to stand for the national anthem Sunday. While his team stayed in the locker room, he stood at the head of the tunnel leading onto the field, hand over his heart.
Villanueva is a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan and is known in the Pittsburgh area for his acts of community service.
Describing his faith in Jesus, Villanueva said, “If you’re right with God, everything else is fine; if you’re not right with God, everything else is out of place. Being connected with God is the most important thing there is.”
Villanueva is right. In the midst of societal upheaval, let’s not forget what is the most important part of our lives.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman