Maybe it’s the fact that I spent twelve years wearing a military uniform, deployed to foreign places within miles of armies capable of killing me, but this whole kneeling during the national anthem thing really bothers me. Individuals like Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, have recently garnered attention because of the national anthem kneel. The irony is that in an effort to protest injustice in our society, this potential leader of a possible worthy cause chooses to assume a position, that in his very own sport, signifies an attempt to run out the clock. What I mean is, a quarterback kneel is the standard play to end the game. That’s only something that the winning team does to preserve its win. If Kaepernick’s gripe is a legitimate one, why doesn’t he use the time to actually make some kind of beneficial advancement? Why not stand proudly on the platform that liberty and opportunity has given him and actually advance the game forward? I think I know the answer to my own questions. The truth is, Kaepernick has no answer that will solve societal problems. The quarterback kneel is his only play. If you have nothing to offer, then you might as well move to end the game.
This problem is much bigger than a football quarterback. It’s much bigger than a president, a professional performer, or a political leader. The solution does not lie with human wisdom. However, I do know of a group of people who has the perfect message and the perfect model of living that could virtually eliminate all the problems that are currently plaguing our society. I have in mind the Lord’s church, and New Testament Christians. The message is the Gospel and the model is Christian living. The Gospel speaks out against and condemns injustices (Galatians 6:10). The Gospel removes barriers that separate nations (Galatians 3:28). The Gospel makes men blind to race or skin color (Galatians 2:11-13). The Gospel removes the fertile soil of class warfare by teaching people to work and earn (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10) as well as to be liberal in giving to those in need (Galatians 6:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). The Gospel teaches responsible behavior and civilized treatment of others (1 Timothy 2:1-2). The Gospel teaches proper emphasis on God’s design for family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). The Gospel teaches us to respect governments and authorities because they are not a terror to good (Romans 13:3). The Gospel teaches us to love our neighbors without partiality (James 2:8-9).
It’s easy to gripe about NFL quarterbacks and other athletes who literally are sitting idle on the sidelines when it’s time to stand. Yet, I always try to be mindful of the old adage, that anytime you have one finger pointed outward, you always have three pointing back at yourself. What are we doing? Not so much during the national anthem at a sporting event, but what are we doing every single day? We’ve been commissioned to take the Gospel to the world. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work. Not only would we be offering salvation to lost souls, but we would also be making positive strides toward reducing the woes that are causing so much grief in our land. As for Kaepernick and others like him, I perceive their frustration—they see a need, they want to make a difference, but they don’t know how. That is not so with us. We can also see the need, we also ought to want to make a difference, and we definitely know how. Perhaps, we just need a little more faith in God and the Gospel as the answer to make life better for all. There’s still time on the clock. We have not gained the victory yet. The last thing Christians need to be doing is kneeling on the sidelines.