Looking at social media over the last several days has been very disturbing to me. Though Puerto Rico lays in ruins, the Caribbean aches in destruction, Mexico City mourns, and our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa face true persecution for the faith, the so-called Christians of the States are hot about folk kneeling during the State worship hymn.
Though there is much to comment on the militeristic symbolism of American football, the troubling words of the State hymn, and Americans’ reverance towards the flag, I’m not going there. Though I choose not to salute a piece of cloth or pledge alligience to the government or people it represents, I understand why many do and I respect their agency.
I write to remind professing Christians who our Lord is. Yes, God has and can bless the leaders and government of the United States for his divine purpose. Yes, we pray for governments and leaders to execute God’s justice and protect the vulnerable and weak on our behalf. Yes, America has and can do good. Yes, Americans have and can do good. But, at the end of the day, either Jesus is our Lord or he is not.
“’I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.‘” (Revelation 3:15–16, RSV)
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, RSV)
If Jesus is our Lord and king we are to give our full allegiance to him. There is no middle ground. Saying his name on Sunday is not enough. He doesn’t want our lukewarm faith. Jesus has established the Kingdom of Heaven and allegiance to his kingdom requires us to live into the kingdom life Christ lived and established for us.
So, I ask those who confess the name of Jesus to take a moment to carefully reflect. Does an athlete kneeling during the State hymn heat you up more than Joel Osteen’s heresy? Are you fired up more about the church’s failure to give sufficient aid to the Carribean than you are about the National Football Association’s press releases? Do you take greater offense at me respectfully standing to profess the Nicene Creed during the State hymn or the fact that Sunday remains the most segrated day of the week?
“He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9 RSV)