Hundreds of thousands of people are talking about a certain news story on Facebook today, including many brothers and sisters in Christ. They are talking about a headline that reads 'Niners QB Kaepernick refuses to stand for the national anthem'. All of the responses to this story on Facebook have left me scratching my head and wondering, "Do we know how to respectfully disagree with those we disagree with?" or "Do we know how to show love to those we disagree with?" In the posts/articles that I have seen brothers and sisters in Christ share, I have seen the burning of this man's jersey, attacks on the man's character, mocking the man because of his upbringing, and accusations of being "un-American" and even "disrespecting and hating our troops"...
Should a Christian be posting such things? Should they be showing their approval of these kind of hateful and disrespectful attitudes when they post articles and videos showing these things? I believe when Christians share these kind of posts, they are showing the world a few things:
- They are showing that the world (not scripture) has trained them how to treat those whom they disagree with. Instead of showing tolerance (respect and patience to those whom we disagree with), they are led by the world to be quick to criticize, mock, belittle, and attack this man made in God's image for sharing his opinions and beliefs (which we do by sharing posts and articles that do so)
- They are showing in this instance that they may have a pride for this country, it's flag, and it's national anthem that is idolatrous in nature. Our emotions can be a good indicator of how much love we have towards our place of earthly pilgrimage, and at times, our emotions can show that we have made this earthly nation a competitor to God for our hearts. (I would encourage you to read these articles on how we can make America our idol)
- They are showing hypocrisy because they claim to be disciples but are not loving their neighbor (Kaepernick in this instance) or treating others the way they would want to be treated if someone disagrees with them. Should not love demand kindness and patience and not rudeness and irritation (1 Cor 13:4-5)? Our King, the Lord Jesus, has given us His royal law to love God and neighbor. It is a law that we will be judged by (James 2:7-13). When we fail to show compassion and love to those who we disagree (or agree) with, we are putting ourselves at odds with the law of the Great judge, and we are in need of repentance.
- Being respectful and patient with those whom we disagree? We often are too quick to throw out statements like: "you are in sin because you believe _______", or "Your "church" is not sound because they don't believe ________", or "You are not a Christian if you agree with __________", or "You are a liberal/legalist/etc because of this belief." Instead of throwing out judgments that assume we believe someone is a lost sinner because they disagree with us, should we not leave this kind of judgment to the Lord? I am not saying there are no areas where we should not take a stand, but I am saying that we need to show caution in being so quick to condemn and judge. We may be putting ourselves at odds and into disagreement with the judgments of Christ Himself. We only know someone is lost and in sin if scripture states it to be the case, and most of our disagreements and condemning attitudes are based on things that are not as clearly defined in scripture as we would claim.
- Check our own hearts to make sure we don't have an idolatrous level of love for our own opinions or traditions - traditions that may be only one way of submitting to the commands of Christ. Make sure we are standing on the teachings of the Apostles, not on our own opinions and traditions we are lifting up to be "Gospel truth".
- Showing love to those who are made in God's image and members of the bride of Christ?
I believe Romans 14 would demand these kind of responses instead of what we normally see among God's people. My prayer is that as you disagree with those who are inside or outside of the church, you will think about how you can respond in a way that best reflects the Gospel (Philippians 1:27) and shows light to this dark world (Philippians 2:15).
Grace and Peace,