Jump Start # 1940
Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.”
Well, yesterday’s NFL football games became widely known as protest day. More than 200 players refused to stand for the national anthem. A couple of teams remained in the locker room during the anthem. This was a unified response to what the President tweeted about disrespecting the country and the flag.
All of this brings us to a much larger subject and that is the Christian and protesting. Protesting is nothing new. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church, protesting many of the practices in the Catholic church. His actions fueled a movement that to this day is called the Protestant church—a form of the word “protest.” This country was formed out of protests. The Boston Tea Party and later the revolutionary war, a revolt against Mother England. The 1960’s were filled with marches against the war in Vietnam and for civil rights. Many hit songs, such as “Where have all the flowers gone,” were nothing more than songs against the war. I was part of a protest in my high school my freshman year. Word spread that the entire student body was going to have a sit-in. When we were to be passing from one class to another, word spread that we were all going to sit down in the hallway. Without any students in the classrooms, the administration had to give in to our demands. It had something to do with the food in the cafeteria. As a naïve freshman, I went along. We all sat down. The principal got on the loud speaker and demanded that we get to class. We didn’t budge. The next thing I knew, dozens of police showed up and were arresting students. Everyone got up and ran in fear. We jumped into the nearest classroom to avoid getting in trouble. I went into a Home Eco class, because that was the nearest classroom.
In the past different unions have gone on strike. That is a form of protest. You’d see guys walking around with picket signs and encouraging you to honk your car horn in support of their protest. Years ago, some in Europe went on hunger strikes in prison. They went days without eating. Some died. They were protesting oppression in their country.
Our verse today, Peter’s response to the Jewish authorities who told Peter not to preach Jesus anymore in the city, is nothing more than a protest. Peter wouldn’t go along with their rules. We must obey God rather than man. So they preached. They went to prison for a while, but they “protested” or resisted the law that tried to suppress God.
Out of protest often comes changes. Sometimes it awakens people’s minds to what is wrong and what needs to be changed. Protests can produce positive changes. Protesters often face consequences of being arrested, losing their jobs or even being put to death. History shows this.
Now, here’s my take on kneeing during the national anthem. It’s something that is growing. Even high school teams and younger are caught up in this. It’s become the latest fad. The latest craze of kneeling during the anthem is foggy and confusing. Yesterday, was nothing more than support for one another and resistance to the President. But before yesterday, when an athlete refused to stand for the anthem, what was he protesting?
- Did he not like the anthem? Did he wish we had another song?
- Does he not like our flag? Different colors? Different shape?
- Does he not like America?
What’s the point? What’s the protest about? What changes need to be made? Kneeling during the anthem only draws attention to the person. Look at me. I’m different. I’m not doing what I am supposed to do. The cause, if there is even one, is lost. The kneeling athlete looks selfish. No one understands what this is about. You don’t like sports? You don’t like this country? You don’t like your team? You don’t like music in sports? We are at a loss as to what’s going on. You kneel, but no one knows why? You protest, but all you do is gather attention to yourself. That is not the nature of protests. The cause is always greater than the person. When Martin Luther King, Jr. marched the streets in the Civil Rights parade, he was protesting segregation. Everyone knew that. When Martin Luther, the reformer, nailed his paper to the door, everyone knew what his protest was about.
We are living in the age of selfies. Everyone is in love with themselves. They take pictures of themselves. This is hard for me to understand. When I go places, I want to take pictures of mountains and oceans. I don’t want myself in the pictures. I don’t like pictures of myself, unless there’s a bunch of people around me. That’s my generation. The new generation likes taking pictures of themselves. It’s not wrong, but it feeds into this fad of “protesting nothing but look at me,” times we live in.
Here’s another thing, kneeing is often a sign of respect. People kneeled before the king. Prayers are offered upon the knee. Heads bowed and on the knee, the heart is showing honor to God. I have kneeled in prayer many times. It’s not protest, but respect to my God. I wonder if those who kneel to the anthem realize that in many ways they are doing the opposite of what they intended.
But at the end of the day, here’s where we are at. The professional athlete, movie star, or musician has power, influence and connections to make positive changes in this country. Many are doing that. Many are simply drawing attention to themselves. Their adoring fans follow and do everything that they do. More and more kids will be kneeling during the anthem. They won’t know why or what kneeling is supposed to do, other than the Pros are doing it. Politics and movies and music have always clashed. I suppose it’s now time for politics and sports to clash.
Kneeling during the anthem will be the center of many office discussions this week. Some will be for it and some will be against it. That’s always the case with protests. The Christian must see the bigger picture and remember that he does kneel. It’s to the God above that he kneels. We must let our lights shine, and our voice be true to the Scriptures. All of this will keeling hype in sports will pass in time. There will be something else. Will any good come from it? Will any positive changes be made? Or, is it simply a moment to put the spotlight on self?
I stand with God. I kneel to God. Changes need to be made in this country and in the church. Do it rightly. Do it without trying to make a name for yourself. Do it to the honor of God. Do it, knowing that others look up to you.