I have wrestled with the level of continual outcry from professing Christians over so many things this year. There are far more pressing issues we need to spend our time upon. We get caught up in the ancillary matters, like whether or not someone should say the Pledge of Allegiance – or if we should stand for the National Anthem. Within our own house there are plenty of matters needing our attention. There are hordes of sinners on the path to hell, yet we are content to bicker with one another over such silly things.
I say this as kindly as I can: I truly don’t care where you land on the issue. It doesn’t matter. If you wish to say the pledge, say it. If you don’t, don’t. If you don’t like it when people are protesting during the National Anthem, so be it. If you do support their protest, ok. Good for both of you. These things are so trivial in the end for those in Christ. I honestly believe both sides are wrong.
Far too often it gives opportunity to the flesh rather than the act of striving with one another to maintain the unity of the Spirit. Why are we biting and devouring one another over what amounts to a piece of cloth when our citizenship is not this country – or even this world? In a world where nearly everything foundational to human existence since the dawn of Creation is not simply being assailed, but openly flayed and exhumed in the public square – we want to focus on flags?
I say all of this, not as some Internet gatekeeper, but as another who can genuinely struggle in remembering the simple truth that we are to be about the business of Kingdom work. We are sojourners and strangers at best, yet at worst, we appear so much like everyone else. We wage war with those whom the Lord has called our brother and sister. After the field has been bloodied, someone inevitably asks, “Where is your brother?” to which we give the trite, muffled answer, “I am not my brother’s keeper.”
How I wish we would adopt grandeur as we go about our generally trivial lives. How I wish we would not only recognize the wonderful gift of God in common grace, but His particular grace. That we would set about on the all-encompassing, all-magnifying, all-glorifying sacrifice of our Savior. On a fundamental level, most of us will live plain, ordinary lives where the most God asks of us is a simple faithfulness to the Scriptures in the midst of a mundane life. Is this not good enough for us?
Tantamount to actually living this out is the recognition that our lives have intended purpose. Our lives have intended purpose because they are not our own. Calvinists ought to recognize this the most – we are not free from the bondage of the will to go and bicker, we are free to magnify Christ as His slave. As we master the art of snark, mocking, and backbiting on the Internet, might I be so bold as to suggest we’ve entered into grave territory?
Might I further suggest we’ve been distracted and asleep for years, to the point where the lie has waltzed over and made its bed with us? I know of some who bite at the bridle as soon as something like this comes up – they’re content in continually mocking another professing believer. They actually make it their goal to be known for this. I say this as one who is firmly convinced mocking actually has a Biblical precedent – yet notice who lady wisdom mocks in Proverbs. Is it one who fears God – even if naively and in much ignorance to the faith?
I’m obviously not stating discussion has no place among Christians. Rather, it seems there are simply some things legitimately worth discussing and some things which present perfect distractions. Sometimes distractions are nice – but they certainly don’t matter in the long run. What most of us do though is placate the sense of need for the things that truly matter because we like to be distracted. Or, we’ve grown to give a head-nod to a Biblical precept, only to freak out when something minimal happens, thus revealing what we truly believe.
It always comes back to sin. I know this. You know this. At what point though will we seek to become known as our brother’s keeper, rather than the older brother routinely annoyed with the “incompetent fledgling” of a younger brother?
This is ultimately the fruit of losing sight of the grand picture. It is the forsaking of gospel truth for social justice. It is the disposition of “enjoying Christian freedom” without respect to the edification of the weaker brother. It is the rejection of tangibly helping our brother and neighbor, but offering our sentiments and prayers. It is the pornographic consumption of our sisters – and offering the tantalizing titillation of immodest dress to our brothers.
Simply stated: it is the pattern of this world as it barrels toward the brethren and seeks to do the work of Satan.
The Christian life is one of continual repentance. All within the church will invariably sin against their brother or sister, yet the idea is that we have a vested interest in pursuing unity. It is not simply a command – it is a means by which we display the wonder of the gospel to a dying world. How in the world have we lost sight of this? Don’t we have better things to do with our lives? If we are truly united by the pure gospel proclaimed in the Scriptures – aren’t there bigger battles?
At the end, everyone will kneel. Not to a flag. Not to a president. Not to a tyrannical ruler – but to the Lord. There won’t be a debate over this; it will simply be a reality for all men. The wicked and redeemed alike shall bow before the righteous Judge of all the earth. In light of this, what have Christians to do with flags and football players taking the knee during the anthem?