Let me start out by saying that I completely disagree with Colin Kaepernick’s method of protesting. I believe that we should honor our country and our flag. I still tear up during the National Anthem when I think of my son, a veteran, and the sacrifices he made to serve our country. I do agree with my son though, in his personal belief that Mr. Kaepernick has the right to sit or kneel during the National Anthem. If we would look beyond this action and listen to his words, especially in the light of these last few days, he has made a serious statement that needs to be addressed. Poor people, usually people of color, do tend to be oppressed in our society.
Oh, we could argue about a lot of issues surrounding this. I do think America still does a better job of dealing with the poor than any other country. Mr. Kaepernick joined a religion that is much more oppressive. Etc. Etc. We have had all kinds of workshops and handwringing about what to do and we have publicly taken sides to the degree that if you say that there’s a problem, people think you hate the police and if you support the police then others think you hate black people. In all of this discussion and the recriminations flying back and forth rarely have we tried to see things through God’s point of view. Throughout history God has stood for justice. He gave us the Law, that we realize was ultimately to lead us to grace. At the same time, He has special compassion for the poor. “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” (Psalm 12:5)
In all of the discussions regarding the recent police shootings we somehow have missed this understanding about God. In truth, this goes beyond the issue of poverty and has become an issue of power. While sometimes the use of force is necessary to save lives, we are seeing far too many instances of people in power abusing that power. Ultimately, this is a spiritual issue. We have become a nation that sees everything in either blue or black, and we have forgotten the need to see red. The blood of Jesus was shed to bring forgiveness for sins. As followers of Christ, we are called to be ambassadors of this grace to bring reconciliation to our world. Rather than dismissing the Colin Kaepernick’s of this world as bad Americans, those of us who follow Christ need to remember that God cares for the poor, the needy, the powerless and recognize that whether we think their concerns are valid or not, we need to find a way to bring reconciliation. We need to stop shouting at each other, and listen to each other.
The process of reconciliation is never easy. The reconciliation that is needed in America today is going to be especially difficult. That being said, our political system and our society have the ability to change when we see wrong. It is at this point, though, that Christians need to take the leadership and bring the grace that leads to reconciliation. We need to forgive the sins of the past and move towards a future where we treat all people as God would treat them. We need to listen to complaints and grievances and deal with them as God would – with grace. As followers of the Christ who dealt compassionately with the un-powerful, we are not called to criticize, condemn, or accuse in a divided world; we are called to bring grace and reconciliation to all who are hurting and afraid in troubled times.
Lord, we live in troubled times. We see many in poverty who seem to be hurting themselves. Give us Your grace to love them. We see many in power who abuse that power. Give us the grace to love them also. Make us agents of reconciliation who bring peace to a troubled world.