I was on the treadmill again at the gym with ESPN on the screen watching and listening to a variation on former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem. The debate in front of me focused on the Cleveland Police Association’s response to several members of the Cleveland Browns kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner in a recent pre-season game. The response was the refusal of Cleveland police officers holding the flag during the national anthem at the first game of the season. The claim is it would be hypocrisy to hold the flag when the Cleveland Browns condone the disrespect of the flag by its players. ESPN’s Steven A and Max K spoke of the players’ and Kaepernick’s Constitutional right of free speech. Then Coach Herm Edwards was given the mic and his words struck home. He said in essence “protesting the flag is wrong; it’s not the flag; the flag didn’t do wrong. Name names and make your protest there.”
Pastor Ed named names this past weekend expounding on the FAQ Why Is Sin Such A Big Deal. I think we have all heard it said, “Deep down everyone is good” or “we are born good; it’s how we are raised, and our environment that determines if we remain good or turn bad; or “you just have to believe in yourself.” Layer on extrapolations from the Theory of Evolution such as “Education is the key – the more educated we are the better we are.” These and many other variations have been with us since the beginning of civilization. The result is not pretty. We are left with a lot of moralizing, political correctness and ineptness, and plenty of hypocritical intolerance. (Witness the diatribes heaped on Tim Tebow a few years ago when he kneeled in the end zone after a touchdown to honor Jesus and the current glowing support of Kaepernick taking a knee.) The evidence is mounting that whether you voted for Trump or Clinton, are liberal or conservative, or prefer ketchup to Sriracha, humankind still struggles and struggles after two millennia since the birth of Christ. We have not evolved; we have regressed in many ways. Its name is sin. Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” Romans 3:23 records “For all have sinned and fallen short . . . .” We have a heart issue; not simply a lack of education or voting wrongly.
Contrary to the notion that we are born good, our hearts reveal major self-centeredness leading to actions that harm others for self-gain. This holds true in economics, politics and in relationships. If we want better human outcomes then we need better hearts. History has shown evolutionary theory as the answer to better hearts is a bad myth at best. So what can truly change hearts? The answer is the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ. History has shown that where hearts have been changed by Jesus, hospitals, orphanages, universities, social change and human compassion have bloomed. Let’s name names; John Newton, slave ship Captain to abolitionist who witnessed slavery abolished in England and wrote Amazing Grace. Mother Theresa touches the untouchable in Calcutta. C.S. Lewis leaves atheism in exchange for a life of faith in Christ and influences millions and generations through writing. A self-centered, arrogant, skeptical university student bargains with Jesus and begins a journey of spiritual discovery closing his professional life writing a blog for his church home.