Colin Kaepernick, the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has stirred quite a controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem. By taking this action, he is seeking to draw attention to the plight of black people in this country. He and others who have joined this movement have received significant backlash and even death threats. The issue of patriotism can be a hot button issue in the church as well. Periodically, I am asked why we don’t have the American flag on the platform as we gather in worship. It is important for us to think carefully about this issue:
First, we don’t live in a Christian nation. Many of our founding fathers were believers and our country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic. But we are living in a thoroughly secular and pagan culture. It is a noble thing for believers to serve in political office or in the military. As the church, however, we should be careful not to “hitch our wagon” to any cultural agenda. Somehow I have a hard time thinking that the first century believers were flying the Roman flag in their house church gatherings (even though many Roman officials were believers).
Second, the church is not an American entity. On any given Sunday, we have believers worshiping with us who are from Africa, South Korea, Canada, Brazil and China. We are not drawn together because of our nationality but because of the bond that we share in Christ.
Third, we ought to avoid anything that decentralizes Christ. We are not looking to a political candidate to provide the ultimate fix for the economy. We are not looking to a legislation to bring about morality. We are not looking to a military to secure our lasting peace. Government officials and military personnel all have an important role to play in God’s world. But when we gather in worship we are looking to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.
Photo credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colin_Kaepernick_in_Super_Bowl_XLVII.jpg