I want to make a few things clear before I get started: I’m not here to take a side concerning the recent NFL protests. I’m not here to make a moral judgment on those who decided to take a knee during this weekend’s NFL games or on those who have taken to social media to denounce the protestors. And I’m not here to offer any kind of commentary on the situation as a whole.
I am here to draw our attention to what really matters.
I’m here to address everyone, especially Christians, who are obsessing over this issue. Since Sunday, all of my social media feeds have been filled with posts concerning NFL players and their recent protests during the playing of the national anthem. These posts are coming from both sides of the debate and are either justifying the actions of the players or accusing them for being un-American. There are people boycotting the NFL while at the same time, TV ratings are up because of the controversy.
It seems that as a nation, we are obsessed with this display of protest by some of our favorite professional athletes. Our country is ablaze with this issue. Christians aren’t exempt from that, either. In fact, many of the posts on social media offering commentary on this issue are from believers.
While we need to stand strong on issues that are important to us, I’m afraid that we are taking our attention away from the cross and putting it on secondary issues. Do we react this strongly when Christ's name is slandered? Do we take to the front lines to stand against things that offend God?
I fear that we are taking the focus away from what truly matters. Today, I want us to take a step back and look at the big picture. I want us to focus on what truly matters. I want us to focus on Jesus. And I want us to consider the knee he took.
Look with me at Luke 22.
Luke 22:39-41: “He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he told them, ‘Pray that you may not fall into temptation.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray.’” [CSB]
This narrative comes just moments before Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, would be arrested and taken away to be crucified. He withdraws to pray, and He kneels down to speak to His Father.
Jesus took a knee.
And he prayed in anguish, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me – nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” [Luke 22:42 CSB]
Later in the passage, it says that Jesus sweat drops of blood due to the intense emotional and spiritual agony that he underwent as he faced the reality of the cross. In those moments, the weight of what Christ was about to do pressed upon Him and overwhelmed Him – so much so that He asked His Father to take the bitter cup away from Him. But thankfully, that’s not the end of the narrative.
Luke 22:45: “When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief.” [CSB]
This verse is much more than a segue into the account of Jesus’ arrest. It reveals something phenomenal about Christ’s character.
You see, Jesus took a stand.
Jesus did not remain on his knees in that garden. Jesus did not buck at His Father’s will. Jesus did not allow the forces of darkness to overcome Him. No, Jesus stood. He stood and went to the cross. And He died for the sins of the world. And He rose again. And thus, He conquered death and the grave and won salvation for His people.
Christians, in the midst of this current controversy, don’t get lost in the noise. Don't forget that we are first Christians, then Americans. Don’t lose sight of Jesus – who is the only true hope this country has.
Stand strong for what you believe, yes, but be pointing to Christ while you do it!
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