This is a guest post written by my husband Andrew, my very favorite Anabaptist.
I went to a religious school, which meant that between music classes, and Sunday school, I learned a lot of Christian children’s songs. This past weekend, watching Twitter, Facebook, and TV, one of the ones we sang all the time kept running through my mind. I will put the words of the chorus here:
Dare to be a Daniel.
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm.
Dare to make it known.
Every Christian kid knows the story of Daniel and the Lion’s den. Daniel, an upright, God-fearing man is in a foreign country, serving a foreign king. Despite all this pressure to fit in, to go along to get along, Daniel remains true to his God. The king puts out a decree (tricked by those who hate Daniel) that anyone who prays or worships anything but the King for the next 30 days will be cast into a den of Lions.
Daniel ignores the decree, and continues to pray in front of an open window that faces Jerusalem, where his home and heart truly is. Those who set this trap for him turn him in, and the king is forced to cast Daniel into the den of lions. But God shuts the Lions’ mouths and Daniel emerges unharmed.
Its rare we get a modern example of a Biblical model as close as we got last Sunday. We had a “king,” who declared that those who would not honor an idol made of cloth were sons of bitches who deserved to lose their jobs. We had multiple Daniels, who chose to honor their principles and beliefs rather than obey their king.
And we had an audience, watching what was happening from home.
I realize a lot of my Christian brothers and sisters are going to argue that Kaepernick shouldn’t be slotted into the Daniel role and respectfully, I disagree. While Kaepernick may not have made his protest an act of worship, he was kneeling for an important Biblical principle: the rights and equality of all people before their country and their God. The fact that Christians would claim they believe in that principle, then vilify Kaepernick for using his platform to stand for it is terrible.
Christians need to recognize that blind nationalism is an idol, and just because it is a flag and not a statue we worship, it makes us no less guilty. The Bible says that we are strangers in a foreign land that is not our own. We cannot allow ourselves to buy into the story our nation tells us about ourselves. Our first loyalty isn’t to a flag or a statue or a nation. Our first loyalty is to a Kingdom, and its principles should animate our actions.
It’s telling that up until this Sunday, it was only black athletes who chosen to kneel on the NFL field. It’s also telling that only one owner joined his players in kneeling yesterday. That owner was an immigrant as well. Christians must open their ears to the stories of those who do not walk the same path as us. If they are showing us that something has become an idol, then we need to take that very seriously.
We also need to view this as an opportunity to demonstrate to our children both the strength it takes to stand up for right, and the potential cost. When power blusters and threatens, the image of a man or woman on their knees is a powerful example for the next generation of what it really means to belong to a kingdom. We tell our kids that they need to emulate these Biblical examples, and we now have an opportunity to put our words into action.
As for me, I will be on my knees Sunday, and I hope you will too.