Standing is Not Optional
In recent weeks, a great deal of controversy has arisen over professional football players choosing not to stand during the singing of the national anthem. Some players have chosen to kneel in protest of some sort. Like most forms of protests, movements, and causes, this one will pass into the pages of history.
What is interesting, however, is that football players on both sides of this issue are taking a stand for their beliefs. For instance, at the beginning of their game on September 24, 2017, all but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room during the singing of the national anthem. The one team member who made a different decision was Alejandro Villanueve. Alejandro made the lone decision to be on the field, standing, during the singing of the national anthem. This player stood for his beliefs just as those who chose not to take the field.
While whether one should or should not stand for the singing of the national anthem seems important, it pales by comparison to a far greater cause which should exist within the heart and mind of every person. This cause is the cause of Christ. Jesus Christ came to save the world. Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:46-47, ESV). It is a cause which places the spiritual well-being of a person before anything else. It is a cause which promotes faithfulness, love, and obedience towards the heavenly Father. It is a cause which every person should embrace.
However, the cause of Christ is often lost in our noisy and cluttered lives. Some Christians find the drive and motivation to support political causes, social causes, moral causes, etc. When it comes to the cause of Christ, sadly, they have little time or energy left over. They find the causes of man more needful and deserving of their time and energy.
Consider for a moment the example of the apostle Paul. In his letter to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11, ESV). This is an incredible attitude and resolve. Paul was willing to take a stand for the cause of Christ. He was willing to suffer for this great cause.
Recognizing Paul’s determination helps to understand his instructions to the church in Ephesus. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:10-13, ESV). Here we see a clear mandate for all Christians, for all children of God. While we may take a stand for other causes, we must, with absolute determination, take a stand for the cause of Christ. We are to prepare ourselves, both spiritually and mentally, to always be ready and able to “stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Standing for the cause of Christ must be done out of conviction. Some people will join causes for different reasons. Some people become paid protesters while others stand for a cause because it is expected of them. Then there are those who stand for a cause to impress or to fit in with others. However, no one can truly stand for the cause of Christ unless they are convicted by the cause and convicted the cause is truly worthwhile. A person must believe Jesus Christ died upon the cross for their sins. He must believe the sin in his life keeps him separated from God. He must believe Jesus is the only way to have his sins forgiven. It is this faith which moves mountains. It is this faith which brings about great change. It is this faith, this conviction, which tells a person to walk away from his sins and be baptized into Jesus Christ. To the church in Colossae, the apostle Paul wrote, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12, ESV). When a person rises from the watery grave of baptism, he rises to walk in a newness of life. To the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, ESV).
All Christians must recognize the importance of standing for the cause of Christ. Let every faithful Christian hold their ground, not giving in, not conforming to the desires of the world. Always remember this: If you are going to live a faithful life unto the heavenly Father, then standing for the cause of Christ is not optional.