The Evidence of Faith’s Substance: How the NFL Could Capture America’s Heart
October 28, 2017
Proverbs 21:3 “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
How would you define character? Everyone would agree it’s something we expect from others. But in American culture today, it’s a moving target. Without a clear definition, we get easily deceived into thinking we are men and women of character, and its everyone else who has a problem. My definition of character is what comes naturally to me, and I wish I saw more of that in you! For example, we often define people with “character” as taking a stand for their beliefs, never mind the rightness or wrongness of those beliefs.
But Jesus Christ doesn’t define it this way. Biblical character has a set standard - God Himself, not the behavior of people. This standard (God’s personality) exists independent of my own emotions, experiences or desires. It is a permanent, unwavering benchmark by which I can measure my choices.
To have a good character is to reflect God’s character. Because God’s character is the real thing, we find ourselves accountable to it. Our verse this week tells us that God defines character as “doing what is right regardless of personal cost.” So I must commit to do what is right according to the standard set by Jesus Christ, in spite of what it costs me personally. I do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do.
Which brings us to this week’s topic. Most of us remain confused over exactly what those NFL players who kneel or sit during the national anthem are protesting. At first (back in August 2016), the reason given was “to protest the oppression of people of color in the United States and ongoing issues with police brutality.”
Then, President Trump criticized these players as not only unpatriotic but also as employees who refuse to abide by their employer’s rules. When he suggested their employer (NFL owners) fire them, the number of NFL players protesting grew exponentially. So is the protest against police brutality, or our President?
But now, after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced that he will bench any player disrespecting the flag, the Seattle Seahawk’s Michael Bennett announced he will protest the NFL for treating players as less than human beings: "If teams don't want guys to play, even if you think about what Jerry Jones said, it's crazy. To me, I just thought it reminded me of the Dred Scott case. You're property, so you don't have the ability to be a person first… your employer doesn't see you as a human being; they see you as a piece of property." OK… so has this become the reason for the protest?
First, as we discussed over the past few weeks, this protest is not to bring national attention to police brutality against blacks. The data simply does not support that. Secondly, there are many people out there who are protesting our President, but doing it during our national anthem is a ridiculous time and place for it. And thirdly, to protest the treatment of NFL players as less than human, mere property that reminds us of the days of Dred Scott, is absurd. So, we are still searching for unified reason for NFL player protests.
I think it’s time we listen to someone who has offered the NFL players the most powerful reason to protest, that would unite their fans and this country. Last week, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill was interviewed on national TV – here are some excerpts: “NFL athletes have every right to protest the tragic loss of any life, including black lives. These players recognize that their NFL celebrity status affords them a unique platform to call attention to matters of importance and perhaps even a responsibility to speak out. And now that the world is watching, the NFL has an opportunity to speak out, in great force, on a tragedy of unspeakable proportion — the senseless loss of young black lives to black-on-black violence.
While it is true that each year a number of blacks die as a result of being shot or otherwise killed by the police, that number is but a fraction of the number of black people murdered by black people. We live in a nation where blacks make up 13 percent of the population and yet account for more than half the murders. Shockingly, 90 percent of those victims are murdered by other blacks. Something is terribly wrong.
And the NFL’s opportunity? Blacks are being murdered at alarming rates in cities all over this nation — including cities that host NFL franchises. Rather than kneeling in silence, they should choose to stand as men of character and courage and tackle black-on-black violence. NFL players may be just the right men to start this protest and stand up against black-on-black violence and give voice to a movement whose time has come in order to save the lives of young black men.”
Hill is calling out the NFL and it’s players to demonstrate true character by doing what is right regardless of personal cost. This is the biblical definition of character. This would unite America around their cause.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.