I would appreciate it if you’d read this to the end. It won’t take you long, I promise!
This Sunday was a rough day in the Smith household. It also happens to be the day that I flippin’ lost my mind. It occurred at halftime of the Chargers/Chiefs game. I’m a Chiefs fan, so I was very interested in the game. During the halftime show, the host disclosed that the entire rosters of the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans stayed in their respective locker rooms during the National Anthem. I also learned that the Pittsburgh Stealers, with one lone exception (a military veteran), also stayed inside to protest.
I picked up the remote to my television and turned off the game. My wife looked at me like I was crazy. “I’m not watching the game,” was all I said. Then I started a fight on Facebook, because that’s what we do now days. It was a good fight too…over 50 comments! Here is the comment that started the fight: “Just turned off football. I’m not giving another dollar or minute of my time to that organization. Y’all do what you want. I’m out.”
This all occurred on the same day that I visited a black church just off Imperial Ave. in San Diego. I came home excited for the Word of God! I felt like I had worshiped with some real like-minded believers. While I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was one of the only white people there, I also enjoyed the service more than I’ve enjoyed church in a long time.
I could try to dress this pig up and make it seem reasonable, but the fact is that I sinned against God on Sunday. Since I sinned publically, I’m confessing publically.
First, I joined in useless arguments. “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9).” I’ve tried to remain above the fray on this race problem in America. Sunday, I made it look like I’m on the wrong side of history. I’m not, by the way, I just lost my mind for a minute.
Second, I disregarded one way that my wife and I connect, and thereby sinned against her as well. Making such a strong move to the remote was not an act of leadership. It was done in selfish isolation. I did not put my wife above my personal well-being. I was not a very good leader in that moment.
Third, I failed to keep the doors open. The last thing I want to do is shut the door on the reality that minorities in this country are often mistreated. And I really do serve my country to allow for all ways of protected methods of free speech, which the anthem protests represent. I only pray I haven’t closed the doors to any future relationships.
I believe in preaching Christ Crucified. I believe that the gospel of Jesus crucified, buried, and risen is the only thing that matters. While I also know that I sin against God all the time, and that I blow my witness all the time, I feel like this Sunday was one of the worst things I’ve done in a long time.
Paul said in his first letter to the church in Corinth that, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
You know what? That verse is the answer to our race issues in America. Period. If anyone understood race relations, it was the Jewish Roman citizen named Paul. The religious Jews of that time period understood God’s law as pertaining only to them…that other races (collectively called Gentiles, or Greeks) were left out of God’s plan. Paul rejected this line of thought and, when he was soundly rejected by the Jews themselves, he became the preacher to the Gentiles.
I don’t know what this means for me and football. Knowing that this is one way my wife and I connect will mean that I won’t turn it off all the time, or forever. But it does mean that I don’t have to watch it all day on Sunday. I had planned to watch at least three games (I have DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket), another on Monday night, and start again on Thursday. Maybe I won’t be doing that anymore. Because the fact is that I still don’t agree with the form of protest. To be fair, I don’t like the riots in St. Louis either. I also don’t like the bigoted white supremists who launch cars into crowds. If you think I’m upset about the Anthem protests, ask me what I think about neo-nazis!
I’m worried for our country. I take some solace in thinking that God is in control, and will (if his followers let him) find a way to unite the races despite our best efforts to divide them. Yet I can’t help but be concerned. I don’t see this getting better any time soon. Only worse. But maybe that’s what we need. Maybe we really need to air the dirty laundry and figure out what’s wrong.
I’d like to be a part of that discussion if I can. I’m willing to meet with anyone to discuss in greater detail the overall situation and what role faith plays in finding a way out of this mess.
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