On flags, faith, and freedom
Normally I try to start out these posts with some sort of statement that hooks you in and makes you want to finish reading the post.
I’m not going to do that today.
Instead, I’m going to start with a request:
There have been tons of things said over the past month about the flag, National Anthem, and athletes kneeling. Memes have been created. Stories have been shared. And everyone and their mom has had an opinion on the issue.
By this point, you probably have your feet firmly entrenched in the side of the argument you’re on.
My request of you is that you don’t read this post with clinched fists looking for an argument to tell me the four reasons I’m wrong with an annotated bibliography of references proving your side right. Instead, I ask that you read this as if we were having a conversation over burgers at a diner. That setting is where this post originated and it’s the tone it’s written in.
Humility is not my strong suit. The idea of humbling myself before others is completely contradictory to my normal state of being. I like to be right. Not only that, but I also like to show people how smart I am by showing how right I am.
After Colin Kaepernick first chose to sit during the National Anthem before an NFL game, I had a conversation with three of my best friends. In that conversation, to prove how right I was, I took a tone that was sarcastic and elitist. To win the argument, I began talking down to my friends. It resulted in a few (completely justified) four letter words thrown my direction and a strain on our relationship. Thankfully we ended up talking it out and cooler heads prevailed because in friendships, that’s what you do.
Over the past month, I’ve seen similar things said from both sides of the argument. More often than not, these comments come from a place of wanting to be right, not from wanting to have a conversation.
But what if our goal wasn’t to be right?
What if it was to show love, grace, and acceptance even in disagreement?
What if, instead of our go to response being to get offended or fight back, we sought to truly listen?
What if, instead of responding out of our own feelings, we empathized with the people on the other side?
You see, there’s a funny thing about humility that many of us have gotten wrong over the past month. We want our culture to humble themselves before us and accept our beliefs. But when it comes time for us to accept theirs, we fight back in ways that render our beliefs obsolete.
And here’s the thing: I get why we do it.
We live in a world that is hostile towards our beliefs as Christians. We get called names for what we believe the Bible says about sex, marriage, money, and success. People make fun of us because we let a 2000 year old book guide our lives. Fighting back and getting the shots in when the opportunity is there only makes sense when we look at it through normal, American eyes.
But we aren’t called to be normal Americans.
We are called to humbly put others before ourselves.
To treat others the way we wish to be treated.
To turn the other cheek.
We can’t treat people we disagree with the way they treat us when they disagree with us. If we do, we are no different than they are.
We have to show Jesus in our disagreements.
We have to know how to respect someone who may not have the same value system as us.
We have to set our desire to be right aside in favor of loving those who come from different places than us.
So can we stop with the self righteous Facebook memes?
Can we stop sharing inflammatory click bait articles?
Instead, can we start acknowledging that part of the freedom we have, both as Americans and as Christians, is the ability to disagree and still love each other?
Love. Grace. Acceptance.
Those three things are what drew us to Jesus and are the only things that will draw a hurting and broken country to him. We show those things most not in the moments when everything is calm, but in times of conflict and division.
So this week, let’s put others before ourselves. Let’s lead the way in how to respond to disagreement.
And let’s show the world what makes us different from the every day normal American.
Say your prayers and take your vitamins.
Have a nice day.