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Take Two Knees

I left the door to our backyard open recently for fresh air while I was working on a sermon at our kitchen table. Suddenly a little bird flew past me from our kitchen as it tried to get out through a window. I opened a side door and tried to shoo the little guy outside. He was afraid of me and kept banging into our windows, trying to escape. To prevent him from killing himself, I called the one I call when I need help. “Kristina, I need your help in the kitchen.”

Kristina left her computer in our office and quickly made a bare-handed catch of the little bird. She gently set him free in our yard. Over the years, she has captured birds, snakes, cats and critters that have wandered into our house. When noises have startled us awake at night, I’ve said, “I’ll guard the bed if you go find out what’s going on.”

Confusion and fear cause little birds and people to make poor decisions. After the Las Vegas shootings, many were asking the same question, “What would cause a seemingly normal person to do such an evil thing?” There is an evil one named Satan. People who live without acknowledging God’s presence in their lives harden their hearts. If people harden their hearts and resist God’s grace, they become vulnerable to destructive impulses from Satan. These impulses often come when people are depressed and frustrated. They motivate people to kill, steal, and destroy. All of us get occasional demonic impulses. Those who yield to Satan set in motion tragic consequences. Hell and judgment are real. Those who murder, rape, steal, and destroy are heading for eternal judgment. Even seemingly normal people need Jesus.

On a lighter note, last football season, Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers took a knee during the national anthem. I wasn’t very sympathetic with his protest. I assumed that he didn’t like America. This season, after President Trump’s comments and tweets disparaging protesting players, the protests grew exponentially. The Arizona Republic featured a photo of a baseball player with his hand over his heart, taking a knee during the national anthem. He seemed to have reverence for our flag, and love for our country, yet his experience with racism has undoubtedly been different than mine. Many of those protesting love America. They are crying out for justice and equality.

This response reminded me of times I’ve tried to solve problems, or fix people, and made the situations worse. I’ve argued with pastors and friends over religion, politics, sports, and priorities. I’ve brought my wife to tears trying to prove my points. I’ve also tried in vain to convince people to not break up their marriages, or to stop destructive behavior, or to vote my way. In all my arguments, I have never heard someone say, “Mark, I just realized I’m wrong and you are right. I think you have changed my mind.”

I can make a situation worse by trying to force people to see things my way. If people are afraid, or they don’t trust me, they flee my attempts to help them, like a trapped bird. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts people of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Our job is to stay filled with the Holy Spirit, love people, and speak the truth. The Lord changes hearts. Anyone can spot problems. Wisdom brings solutions.

If we want unity in our nation, or between churches, we need to try to understand those who believe differently than we do. If we can understand their pain, we might understand their perspectives. We need wisdom, compassion, and understanding. Wisdom is more valuable than gold because it guides us to take the right actions at the right time. To receive wisdom and grace, we need to do more than take a knee during the national anthem. We need to take two knees before the Lord our God on a regular basis. He resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

Our nation and our families face big challenges. To bring solutions, we must value loving people over proving we are right. We need to study, obey, and declare the Word of God. Someday, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. If we bow willingly and declare Jesus is Lord now, we are positioning ourselves to receive grace that brings salvation and solutions. Jesus reigns in the end. Until then, He sits at the right hand of God until all His enemies are made His footstool. Declaring that Jesus is Lord is part of our job, and that’s also why we take two knees.