American Idol

Can I be Simon Cowell for a few moments?

I came across an article recently where a pastor in Alabama used a portion of his sermon time to address the controversy surrounding Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick.

I was hoping he would take a balanced, nuanced approach to the situation. I was hoping he would acknowledge and respect the differing viewpoints on the issue. I was hoping that he would somehow lead the congregation to take thoughtful consideration of the social issues that are at the root of the protest itself.

I guess I was hoping for too much…he went 0-3.

What he chose to do instead was announce his own official protest of Nike. He proudly stated that he had “bought his last pair of Nike shoes”, took a pair of scissors, went to town on some Nike head and wristbands, and then flung the severed bands from the pulpit.

His explanation?

“America may not be the best country in the world and we’ve got a lot of faults, but I’m telling you what, a lot of folks died for the sake of what that flag represents.”

I’m not going to waste words or time downing this pastor. I respect him as a brother in Christ, and I respect his freedom of speech…which is ironically something that the flag represents.

But, I digress.

I’m very concerned, however, that this dogged “defense” of the American flag is trending dangerously close to idolatry.

Let me be clear here. I have no issue with having a sense of pride and respect for one’s country. I have nothing against anyone who simply disagrees with the idea of kneeling during the national anthem. I’m not even all that upset with anyone who wishes to protest Nike.

My Simon Cowell-esque criticism is aimed at the exaggerated exaltation of the star-spangled banner.

It troubles me that there are some people in America who are so obsessed with the appearance of respectability that they are unwilling to even consider that there are things happening to their neighbors that are far from respectable. It is particularly disturbing to me that this group includes some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Which brings me back to why I am so bothered by how this Alabama pastor…my brother…went about this the way he did.

I’m all for addressing political issues from the pulpit. But shouldn’t we address those issues in a way that somehow points back to Jesus…or at the very least, to biblical principles?

My brother instead hung his hat on honoring the image of a flag.

And yet, there are fellow image-bearers of God being treated unjustly in the very nation that this flag represents.

Question…which image do you think Jesus is more interested in?