Paul writes to the church at Philippi calling for the encouragement of one another. I would like to be physically present but sends his love in words of a letter to challenge the church to hold each other, together, in Christ.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:9-11, NRSV]
A great deal of attention and angst has been swelling up around athletes who choose to kneel during the national anthem as a sign of protest. The NFL protesters have hoped to draw attention to racism, violence, and brutality of a very small portion of police officers in urban areas. Keep in mind these are the same athletes who play a violent and brutal game, as a lucrative vocation.
My prayer and suggestion for NFL players and others who want to make a difference should quit protesting and begin reading to at-risk students in the communities they play (every school would welcome them as mentors for free;) they need to ride with police officers in the communities they visit as a team and build relationship with law enforcement. (again this would not cost anything for players to ride-along.) This misplaced taking a knee is not at all what Paul is encouraging the church to do.
Paul challenges us to a life of humility instead of following the will of the majority, nor the pleasure of the law of the land. We are challenged to submit ourselves to Christ. God who is the author of all love has our best interests, so placing ourselves in God’s trust is not as risky as we might make it out to be. Christ died and exchanged his life for our eternal life, long before we had any say in the matter so we might have paid access to God who loves us. God sends us the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire, encourage and correct us on this journey.
Our response is to place our trust in the one who loves us most. Our response is to place our lives in the life of the who gave their lives for ours. Our response is to place our agenda’s, goals and dreams into the heart of God who loves us and Christ who saves us and in the Spirit that guides us.
Some folks have trouble with the word ‘submit.’ Image someone saying, “You must submit to eat your grandmother’s hot buttered biscuits that she has prepared for you.” To which we might say, “Uh, well, sure that’s not a problem at all.”
Or if another said, “You must sit down and listen to your father tell you how much he loves you and how proud he is of you and how he will always love you.” To which we would say, “Certainly, that’s just what I wanted to hear.”
Or if another said, “You must live your own life, but your best friend will travel with you the whole journey to guide, encourage and remind you that God is with us for the whole journey.”
May we ignore the misplaced agendas and return to the task of building up one another in Christ. May we stop complaining about racism and build relationships. May we stop complaining about overpaid players and get out and play with our neighbors for entertainment. May we remember that we are called to submit not to our glory but to God’s. Protest takes a knee, submission intentionally chooses to take both knees and give our lives to God’s witness and work.
So turn off your social media and get social with your neighbors in Jesus name. Turn off the agenda-driven news and make news for the kingdom of God. Stop complaining and waiting on the sidelines, God is calling each of us, and all of us, to get in the game and worship God’s holy name in all the world.