I love football in any form! I played for 7 years, coached for 4, and watched it more than I will ever care to admit. I also love my country. Jenni and I have taught our children to stand for the flag during the national anthem with their hand over their heart. I also love people-all people. I was so thrilled this past Sunday morning when I noticed the diversity on our church platform. It is just one visible illustration of the unity that Jesus Christ can bring into the lives of fallen man. With all of that being said, there is still a major problem in our country. To be honest, I’m not shocked with the response of those who do not know Christ as their Savior, but as I scroll through Facebook and Twitter, I’m blown away by the reaction of those who call themselves Christians. Many of the responses don’t look anything like our Lord, and they are laced with anger, disgust, and short-sighted temporal living. I’m afraid that we are burning bridges that could be used to carry the gospel to those who need it so very much, and the Devil is all too happy to keep providing fuel as long as we will keep pouring it on the fire.
So how should believers respond to the controversy involving the NFL, the Whitehouse, Colin Kaepernick, the national anthem, and protest of any kind?
1. Be soft. Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
This doesn’t just work for siblings fighting in the back seat. It will make us rethink what we type on Twitter and Facebook. Soft answers will accomplish more than sharp ones.
2. Be stealth. 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Paul’s example was to pray for leadership so that believers could fly under the radar and stay on mission. We shouldn’t get all worked up about an issue that will only serve to derail believers from their main mission. God is pleased when we live peaceable lives. This is more beneficial to others coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
3. Be smart. James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Did you catch that? Smarts that come from heaven are pure, peaceable, and gentle. You can read the couple verses before that to see what worldly wisdom looks like. The tone and content of our words will show everyone where we got our smarts.
4. Be seeking. Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
As believers, we are citizens of heaven, and while we may not agree with someone’s behavior even when it infringes upon our “rights”, we must never forget that this world is not our home. Be willing to suffer like Jesus so that the gospel can shine, and don’t get too comfortable here in America. Seek to be a good citizen of heaven first.
5. Be sincere. John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Being sincere means being honest, real, genuine. You see, some people are all upset because other people are “disrespecting the flag.” We believe as Americans that we should honor the sacrifice of those who have fallen for our freedoms. While this is very true, don’t forget that every soldier’s sacrifice is simply a living illustration of the price paid for by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In seeking to honor soldiers, we might be guilty of dishonoring our Savior with our carnal attitude and quick temper. It also seems odd that one would stand and fight for soldiers because of their sacrifice but fail to stand and speak up for Jesus in their everyday life.
6. Be sensitive. 2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
If we know Jesus as our Savior, we should know that without Christ, mankind is spiritually blind. It is our job to help them see the light. Critical and decisive comments won’t shed light on the truth. When Christ encountered people that we’re searching for fulfillment in life, His response was compassion. Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Jesus told his disciples to pray for laborers to go and serve these people and to share Christ’s love with them. This should be our response too.
7. Be slow. James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
If the first six points failed to help us respond correctly to the current tensions in our country, then consider the seventh: Be SLOW. Slow down killer. Slow your roll. Back up the train. Did we think that ranting and raving about our position would result in thousands converting to our viewpoint and simultaneously desire to accept our Jesus as their Savior? Yes, I know we have the freedom of speech, but that is an American freedom not a Biblical freedom. I’m not saying slow down in hopes to silence your voice, but I do hope it makes us all realize that half-baked and short-sighted reactions are hurting the cause of Christ way more than they are helping. With piles of garbage all over the country, we should really stop littering.
I’m afraid this tension in our country will become a new kind of normal, but if we ever hope to fix this problem, it won’t get done through memes, gifs, and provoking rhetoric. Truthfully, I’m not sure this problem will ever be completely resolved until Jesus rules on the earth, but I do believe if we want to see improvements in this situation we should use these 7 steps when engaging the world around us.