Professional football player Colin Kaepernick is making headlines for setting down during the national anthem. My understanding is that he is doing it as a sign of protest against “black oppression.” I do not know all the details about his protest but it seems to be primarily directed at the police and their brutality toward people of African-American descent.
While he is making this stand against oppression, or taking his seat as the case may be, my Facebook feed has been full of posts to refute Mr. Kaepernick’s claims. These post have come in three basic forms. First are those that directly attack him and his claim. As a pro football player he is making 14 million dollars this year. He lives in a mansion and has more money than my entire town combined. Second, the attacks are focused on facts. In this country you are more likely to get shot by the police if you are white than black. One makes headlines and the other does not, or so his opposition claims. Finally, the last line of argument against his stance are videos and stories of police officers who have helped their community rather than oppress them. There is a video of police officers helping elderly black people in simple and profound ways. This last one is what catches my attention.
The main problem I see is that when we view a group of people our opinions are usually based on a few individuals, not actually an entire group. You see there is really no such thing as the police force as a group. Yes, there are police men and women who serve daily, but those individuals do not go hom eat night and all talk to each other. Most of them have no contact outside of work. The group is really just a bunch of individuals whose only connection is in their occupation and job title. Yet, we view the group as a whole. The interesting result is that we chose to view a group of people based on the actions of a few individuals. A person must decide if they will focus on the good stories or the bad ones.
Here is why I write all of this: The same reality exists in the Church. There is no such thing as Christians. There are individuals who follow Jesus and we have that connection, but we rarely function as a group outside of worship. The hard part is that when people think of Christians they can choose to focus on the good stories or the bad ones when drawing their conclusions. The interesting result is that people draw their conclusions about all of us based on the actions of a few individuals. The end result is convicting – each one of us becomes a representative of the whole group.
This week I wonder, “How will my actions shape people’s view of Christians?” Maybe the question is even broader, “How will your actions shape the views of people regarding Christians?”
I do not know how Mr. Kaepernick arrived at his views. I really have little control over his views beyond my own actions with people of his same racial heritage. I also do not know how people come to form their view of Christians. The only control I have in those matters is how I treat people in the name of Jesus. May each one of us act like Christ, for the good of all of us.