It began as one man’s protest against police brutality and racial inequality in America. Sitting during the performance of the national anthem progressed the next week to take a knee while his teammates were standing at attention on the football field. The man was Colin Kapernick, a highly visible pro-football player, who was determined to make a bold statement. A firestorm followed. Celebrities and politicians took sides, some joining Kapernick’s protest, others reviling his actions. One question was raised by many, when did it become patriotic to become unpatriotic?
Critics and pundits alike point out that these actions are not unpatriotic but simply misunderstood. Indeed, they counter with the notion that their actions should be praised since they are actually defending American values and focusing attention upon critical issues. Detractors point out that the ends do not justify the means.
Who is right?
There are kernels of truth within both sides of the discussion. While I do not agree with the method, I do agree with some of the issues that Kapernick was attempting to communicate. It is unfortunate that the full impact of his message was diluted and even distracted by the controversy that ensued.
When did it become patriotic to be unpatriotic? When do the ends justify the means? The Bible gives us valuable insight. This verse from 2 Chronicles describes the actions of King Asa of Judah. While he was generally a good king, he became overconfident in his own abilities. At this time, Judah and Israel were divided and often engaged in open conflict. When Asa learned that Israel was building up the city of Ramah with the intention to hinder their people from leaving and joining Asa, he took action. He made an alliance with Syria, an enemy of both Judah and Israel. By clever words and bribery, Asa convinced the King of Syria to join him and attack Israel. The resulting actions led Israel to abandon the building project in Ramah as she fought to defend herself against Syria.
While Asa’s actions did preserve and strengthen Judah, God was not pleased that Asa relied upon his own cleverness and did not first seek God’s guidance. God sent the prophet Hanani to chastise Asa’s actions. The first part of the verse illustrates God’s desire for His creation, searching for those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.
The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him….
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
The last part of the verse contains God’s condemnation of Asa’s actions and a prophecy that Asa and the Kingdom of Judah would face continuing warfare.
…What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
In this world, we may think the ends justify the means. When we chose to follow God, it is very clear the ends do not justify the means. While we may utilize our talents and resources to create an outcome that we think may be pleasing to God, it ignores God’s sovereign Hand in all activities and uplifts our abilities rather than acknowledging that God is in control of all events. He is desirous for us to surrender our will to Him so that He may bless us for our obedience.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.