Sports, the president and the anthem


I am a sports fan. There is nothing more interesting than the strategy within a close baseball game, nothing more intense than the hard-hitting in a close football game. I am impressed with the skill offered by golf's finest and the endurance illustrated by great race car drivers. I am ever impressed by the commitment to discipline it takes to make a great Olympian. While I am not a huge basketball or soccer fan, I still enjoy watching the greats play their game. So the events of the last few days have caught my interest.

I am an American. I am proud of our liberty and blessed to live in such a great country. I often pledge my allegiance to the flag and to the country that it represents. I stand and face the flag when the national anthem is played or sung. I have sung the anthem many times myself. I don't take for granted the lives lost, the blood shed and the overall sacrifice that so many families have had to endure in order for me to enjoy it. Since I was 18, I have voted just about every time I have had the chance. So the events of the last few days have caught my interest.

I am a Christian. I believe that God created all of us for his glory. I believe that he loves all of us and wishes that none should perish. I believe he proved his love to us through his son Jesus Christ, who came to model for us a life of servitude, love and ultimately, sacrifice. I believe that his spirit, the Holy Spirit, lives in the hearts of all believers in order to guide and correct them. I believe that everyone is created by God with an ultimate purpose in mind. So the events of the last few days have caught my interest.

I have an opinion. The issue is not sports nor politics. Yes, there are questions about standing or not standing. There are questions about what a president should or should not say. However, these are merely the visible surface of the problem, symptoms.

In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul says this in verses 3 and 4:

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Plainly spoken, we as Christians are to follow the example offered by Jesus. We are to love people first. Too many times our love for our fellow man is based on an "if." If someone looks like we look, thinks as we think, acts like we act, believes as we believe and so on, then they will deserve our love. But Jesus gave us a model of loving first, not loving if. When and if we all learn to love first, value others first and serve others first, then flags, songs, sports and politics will work themselves out.

While this is a tall order, it is the call of Christ and the instruction of Paul for the church. We should carry the love of Jesus in our speech, our actions and our attitudes. So, enjoy sports, respect the country, pray for the president, and value others above yourself.

Jock Hendricks is the pastor of campuses and outreach with Alice Drive Baptist Church.