Charisma Caucus

Should Christians Take a Knee During the National Anthem?

The Cleveland Browns team stands and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of their game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Cleveland Browns team stands and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of their game against the Indianapolis Colts. (Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)

I'm all for exercising Constitutional Rights, but this new trend is alarming. Standing honors those who have given their lives for the freedoms that we now enjoy—freedoms that allow these individuals to make millions of dollars and never have to worry about retirement or hard work. Our arrogance, as a nation, is mind-boggling. "We have forgotten God, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own" (Abraham Lincoln).

A Fifth Division graveyard sign in Iwo Jima, Japan, states it well: "When you go home, tell them for us and say, 'For your tomorrows we gave our today.'" What a travesty when we fail to honor those who gave their lives for the freedoms we now enjoy. These athletes need more humility and less arrogance; more thankfulness and less entitlement.

In the words of Mr. O'Brien who served in World War II: "It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate." O'Brien continues: "It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

Let's be very clear on this: "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both" (Dwight D. Eisenhower). Many gave their lives in order that we would be "one nation under God," not above God—that we would honor our nation, not mock it.

"But America is evil," they say. Not true. James A. Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, explained many years ago what the problem was and is, "Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption."

What about slavery and oppression, since that is the "battle cry"? The truth is that many of the Founding Fathers were responsible for planting the first seeds of equality and for the eventual end of slavery. John Quincy Adams was often referred to as the "hell-hound of the abolition movement" for his efforts against slavery.

America has been desensitized one generation at a time, one court decision at a time, one compromise at a time, and we are drowning in a cesspool of relativism. "The wicked walk on every side, when the worthless of mankind are exalted" (Ps. 12:8).

We are experiencing the rapid deterioration of a nation right before our eyes. This is not the time for passivity, but for prayer ... to weep, fast and petition God. Woe be to the church in a hurry to burn through a sermon, scurry through worship and head to the nearest restaurant.

We've heard these questions before, and we will hear them again: If not now, when? If not here, where? If not us, who? God said He looked for a man from among the leaders who would build a wall and stand in the gap before Him on behalf of the land that He might not destroy it, but He found no one (Ezek. 22:30). This was true in Ezekiel's day, and it's true today. God is still looking for men and women to do what is right.

Today, entertainers mock God and America, the church is silent and passive and the courts have taken it upon themselves to assume the role of a law-making body, rather than a protector of the Constitution; they have become political rather than constitutional. The wall of separation of church and state that was designed to protect America's freedoms has now imprisoned her. (Listen to "One Nation 'Above' God" here:https://vimeo.com/168658806.)

One of my great concerns is for the pulpits of America. Many are exchanging truth for tolerance, boldness for balance, and conviction for cowardliness. We don't want to offend; we might lose our audience. But we are not to seek the applause of men but the applause of God.

Pastors (and Christian leaders alike) must take responsibility for the spiritual health of our people. The pulpit inevitably sets the tone of the religious climate of the nation. A culture void of God simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew.

I conclude with words from John Winthrop (1588-1649)—one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, "We shall be a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world."

But hope is found in the famous Scripture that many love to quote but few want to obey. Second Chronicles 7:14 calls out from the past with resounding clarity to America today: "If My people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Without question, repentance, prayer and humility before God are our only hope. Find more at https://www.facebook.com/confusedchurch/.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Leona Valley, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his seventh book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.com. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.

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