I stand(and sit) with Colin Kaepernick

The early church would be utterly baffled by the idea that future Christians would shame someone for not swearing allegiance to the empire.” -Rachel Held Evans

If this place really were the “land of the free” someone would be able to sit during your song and not be endlessly harassed for it.” -Dr. Benjamin L. Corey

If Jesus had come to us in the 21st century in America rather than Palestine two thousand years ago I’m convinced that he would be seen in much the same light as Colin Kaepernick. His words and actions were prophetic and radical in Palestine two thousand years ago and they are prophetic and radical for us now.

A recent firestorm of harsh criticism and even shocked outrage was sparked after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem to protest racial issues in the U.S. The same cultural conformity police that hates any kind of non-compliance to what they perceive as faithful devotion to the creeds and rituals of the national civic religion, has gone nuts over this so called unpatriotic and offensive action. God forbid, someone stand up for the oppression of minorities by blaspheming the sacred idol of America.

As someone who has, since elementary school, chosen not to recite the pledge of allegiance or put my hand over my heart and sing the national anthem, I would like to voice my solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and others who would do the same. While Kaepernick might not share the convictions and beliefs that drive my choice not to participate in such activities, I admire his decision to do likewise.

There is no shame in refusing to stand for the national anthem or choosing to abstain from placing your hand on your chest or reciting a pledge of allegiance to a piece of cloth. If America is truly ‘free’ then its citizens should not have to fear backlash for their choice to abstain from oaths of allegiance.

And for us Christians, we would do well to remember the countless Christians who were martyred by the Roman Empire for their refusal to say, “Caesar is Lord.” The Early Christians were dubbed as, “atheists” by their contemporaries because they refused to swear loyalty to Rome and to its Emperors, who were seen as divine representatives.

Rachel Held Evans correctly noted that early Christians would be shocked to learn that future Christians would shame someone for refusing to pledge their allegiance to a nation. But as I see it, early Christians would be more shocked to learn that modern Christians would choose to declare allegiance, or ultimate loyalty, to nations and empires. Such power structures are fundamentally committed, by the very definition of nation or empire, to promoting their own advantage and survival through the use of force and coercion and even killing of perceived “enemies”.

It’s important to distinguish that for the Early Church saying “Jesus is Lord,” was not simply a spiritual mantra, but an overtly political declaration. It amounted to taking a subversive, counter-cultural stance of allegiance for the kingdom of God.

I stand (and sit) with Colin Kaepernick, not just because I believe there is racial disparity and injustice in America, but also because I believe my true allegiance is not to America, but to Christ and his kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom that has no condemnation, no judgement, no chains. A kingdom that speaks for those on the margins of society, the oppressed, the poor. A kingdom that rejects injustice, violence and hate. It is for all peoples and all nations. There are no borders, there are no flags. Only the emblem of the crucified lamb. And in Christ’s kingdom there is only one Lord, one King, and only he merits our true allegiance. All else that we do in this world must coincide and look like Jesus.

Jesus is Lord.

 

For Jesus’ words on serving two masters and taking vows:

*Matthew 5:33-37, Matthew 6:24, Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17

 

 

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6 thoughts on “I stand(and sit) with Colin Kaepernick

  1. Doug told me of a discussion they all had at work about who the Vikings should get as a quarterback. Doug commented that he thought they should get Kaepernick, after all he had a pretty good track record. Everyone jumped on that comment, some with anger. All responses were negative. Kaepernick, apparently, has a reputation of being an arrogant jerk but that isn’t what deters us from wanting him to be on our football team. It’s the fact that he doesn’t bow to the flag in our nation’s own arrogant quest to “make America great again”.
    Another conversation I heard this week was with a Cuban author who had, himself, been banned from his home country as well as any of the books he has written. He was responding to the said idea that Americans now being able to come to Cuba as tourists/vacationers was going to change lives of Cubans and their country for the better. His reason for negating this idea was simple. Not everyone in the world had been banned from vacationing in Cuba since 1960. Approximately 3 million people from Europe and Canada had vacationed in Cuba just last year and that didn’t changed the lives of Cubans and their country, why would we think Americans coming to vacation all of the sudden make things better? Yes, why do we??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Leah for sharing your thoughts. It is interesting how people react far more to these kinds of incidents that involve supposed civic duties. There are few issues that are as touchy as this. I’ve not heard anything about Kaepernick being arrogant, but its not uncommon among football players who get a lot of attention, so it doesn’t surprise me if it is true. That doesn’t make his actions any less impressive. I like that you said that its not his so called arrogance that people really care about but his decision to no bow down to the flag.

      As for the Cuban author, I think he has a valid point that we should consider. However, I do think the lifting of the travel ban to Cuba was the right call. Perhaps it won’t do anything in the short term, perhaps it will. Closing other countries off is not the solution, its not the Cold War anymore.

      Thanks for your comment Leah!

      Like

      • Yes, lifting the travel ban is the right call, but I found it interesting that we Americans think that our presence there will make a greater impact than say the Canadians or Europeans who have been there all along. It all points to the same ideology that America is the savior for all. Keep writing, Josiah, we need to hear your thoughts!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Josiah, I read some about this on twitter, folks are more concerned about Kaepernicks stance than his supposed arrogance. Well, you words are right on. Guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that patriotism is so prevalent. I suppose Trump will keep those flags pretty high too god forbid he wins. Good comments Leah

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Tim! 🙂 One day the flags of all nations will fall and be cast away into the flames and the flag of the lamb will rise. That is my eternal hope

        Like

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