"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

08 July 2015

Flags... really, people? They're flags.

I swear, if I see one more controversy about a flag, I may do something goofy.  Maybe I'll sew a bunch of them together into a big old quilt with all the ones that represent groups that don't like each other next to one another.  A public art installation.  Except I don't sew.  And really, I am past the point of wanting to learn.

But I guess "past the point of wanting to learn" is kind of what sums up America when it comes the the flag debates.

Gosh, folks.  I'm FROM the South.  Let me tell you something about the Confederate flag.  Its the flag of a dead nation, however a beloved one.  But the one thing that still holds true about the South is, as Lewis Grizzard said, "we don't care how you do thing up there in Cleveland."  Don't tell the South what to do with that flag.  For some it is the flag of hate, for some it is the flag of heritage.  But nobody south of the Mason Dixon wants to hear what that flag means in Cleveland, or Philly, or New York.  The South doesn't like being told by outsiders what to do.  That's the story behind that flag's origins.  That's the "restoration" story that followed it.  That is the only meaning behind that flag we all pretty much agree on.  Its a flag, let it go.

But I am from the South and I am also a Christian.  If it causes your brother to stumble, throw it out.  The voice that says "throw it out" has to be a Southern one, and mine is as good as any, though I've lived away half my life and never had much of an accent.  I grew up on sweet tea and know what "bless your heart" really means (and it isn't what you Yankees have been told it means).  I knew from the time I could walk "what's the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee."  My daddy tol' me.  And so I will say, that flag, though it means a lot of things and not all of them hurtful, causes our brothers to see hate they have received and causes others to see hate they'd like to dish out.  Let the flag go.

And just when I think all this hooplah is fading away, while everyone looks to the flag of a dead nation and fails to notice live burning churches, live hurting hearts, live difficult discussions.... just when I think we've set it all aside... some yahoo decides to fly a "Christian" flag over a US flag on church property in North Carolina.

Do not get me wrong, I'm not offended by the order.  The church is, at its best, a foreign embassy on US soil.  The state does not reign nor does it give us the authority to be the church.  I'm offended instead by the presence of the US flag at all under it.  The US flag likely has no use at all on church property, but less so flying in a way that intentionally provokes our  neighbors.  Again a flag causes our neighbors to stumble.  Throw it out.   Your idea may be technically correct, but it is not helpful.

The church has never been without controversy, but only this modern church seems to enjoy causing controversy for its own sake.  Poking at dragons.  I'm not saying hide your faith under a bushel; but I am saying that loving your neighbor is the opposite of provoking him.   Its time we stopped flying banners and hollering about colors and opened our eyes to our neighbor, our brother.  Its time we started seeing that our brother under the banner of Christ is suffering the world over, including in our back yard.  Churches are burned, the faithful are outcast, martyrs are made daily the world over.  Unwrap yourselves from the flags that bind you and like Lazarus, come out of the grave, Christians.  Come out.

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