Believe in something, even it means sacrificing everything.
In a world of social media, stories get blown up in minutes. One such story that has broken is the deal that Nike has made with Colin Kaepernick, to make him one of the faces of their 30 year anniversary of their slogan. Now, hostility seems to be high on both ends of people’s responses to this, with hateful rhetoric spewed on both sides, as well as a laughable burning of Nike gear. This post is not an attempt to add to the proliferation of op-ed pieces that have already raged about this, but I do want to talk about what it brings to mind when it comes to spiritual things.
In short, I’ve still got my Nikes on today. What a corporation does with their advertising doesn’t really affect my calling nor my relationship with God, so I try not to get bent out of shape about it. The reality is, I don’t see the heart of Kaepernick, I don’t know what he has gone through as a minority in our country. It may very well have taken tremendous courage to speak up about what he believes to be injustice in our country. To say he’s sacrificing everything may be some heavy hyperbole, and others have definitely done this literally (consider the story of Pat Tillman), but again, I am not in his shoes. I tell my students, and adults I know, and myself, that it is not my responsibility as a Christian to agree with those who scream injustice. Rather, it is my responsibility and calling to listen, to consider, to be slow to anger, to be slow to speak.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
And people say the Bible is not applicable today.
The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
What makes me even more considered for the state of believers in our country is that we have become a people who get far more outraged over the decisions of others when it comes to patriotism and legislation than we do over the way people are choosing not to follow Jesus.
Maybe that didn’t make sense. Basically, we get up in arms about earthly things rather than spiritual things. I’ve seen some of the most hateful rhetoric shared and spewed on social media at those who believe differently than the poster on political matters or even matters of standing for the flag at a football game. We become more concerned about whether or not people kneel for the flag than we do whether or not people bow before the King.
I know I basically just blogged about this verse a week ago, but this passage continues to fill my heart and mind as of late.
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? – Proverbs 24:10-12
We as followers of Jesus are called to rescue those who are being unjustly killed, we are to rescue those who are being oppressed. Why? Because the entire narrative of Scripture it about God rescuing His people out of literal oppression and spiritual slavery. From Exodus to what Ephesians says about how we’re enslaved to our sin outside of Christ. It’s all about being rescued from oppression.
One day, we will stand before God, He who knows our hearts. We won’t be able to say we didn’t see the oppression happening. We won’t be able to lay forth any valid excuses.
Social justice is not the gospel. It is not the good news of the Scriptures. If we merely meet physical needs, we are doing people a disservice, and we are not saving them from death. Notice how the above passage can be applied to those who are headed towards eternal separation from God. There are spiritual needs far more dire than physical ones.
The gospel leads to social justice. If we believe that God died for us, then we are willing to leverage our lives for His cause.
Guys, I’m not team Kaepernick or team Tillman.
I’m team Jesus.
And while that may be the most nauseatingly cliche thing you’ve ever read, it’s no less true. Christ calls me to listen, to really listen.
Consider a story from Mark 10:46-51. In it, a blind beggar cries out to Jesus for help. The crowd tells him to shut up. Yet Jesus has compassion on him and heals him.
Consider with me for a second.
What if the cries of injustice and oppression are false. What if truly men like Kaepernick have nothing to really complain about? Now, I don’t believe that to be the case. But, what if? Even if it’s not genuine oppression, when we say we don’t care, when we say stand up and shut up, we might very well be the deterrent that prevents them from seeking Christ.
Yes, God is a God of justice. But He’s also full of mercy and compassion.
If we tell those in our community to just shut up when they cry out, that literally does nothing but drive them away from Christ. Again, please understand, as Christians we do not have to agree with those who cry out. For instance, I don’t agree with everything that the Black Lives Matter movement stands for and does, but, I am called to listen.
Guys, people are dying without Christ!!
I don’t want the vitriol of the church to keep them from experiencing Jesus.
What if we listened? You know agreeing and listening aren’t the same thing?
What if we listened?
What if we cared enough about the souls of people to hear about their deepest hurts and point them to the Healer.
Guys, read my heart. I’m not pro-kneeling or pro-standing. Really I don’t care. What I care about is that the church needs to be willing to listen to those who say they’re being oppressed. To not at least listen is to grieve the heart of God (just read all the indictments against the people of God in the Old Testament).
What if we listened?
Just do it.
In His Name,