kneeling man webRecently, at several NFL games, some players have taken to “taking a knee” during the national anthem in protest of something they don’t like about America. This has exploded into a controversy that will not be explored here. However, the concept of kneeling has been around probably forever, and can be read in different ways.

It is generally considered a sign of obeisance — respect and humility before a superior. Knights, both medieval and modern, knelt before the king or queen to be knighted. Terrorists are known to make victims kneel in humiliation before being executed. On a more positive note, supplicants often kneel while praying as a sign of humble submission before the Lord. In the Old Testament, one of the psalmists enjoins us, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:6). For what reason? “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3).

There has been much discussion about the appropriateness of “taking a knee.” It is seen as both a legitimate, legal form of expression and a sign of disrespect to the United States government. As with most things, it’s a matter of perspective. Of course, the Bible has something to say about “taking a knee.” There, too, it is seen as a legitimate form of expression and a sign of disrespect to government.

As mentioned before, the psalmist invites us to kneel before the Great Creator. In this case, kneeling is a sign of submission, not protest. The truth is, if one does not submit to God now, he or she will take a knee to the Lord in the future, and not in voluntary submission. “For we will all stand before the
judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10c-12).

Jesus himself, God in the flesh, had need to kneel as well. In incomprehensible agony and unparalleled submission, “he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this
cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’” (Luke 22:41-42). Even in the example of the Son of God, we can see that taking a knee is a legitimate form of expression. In Romans 13, believers are told, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except
from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2). Can taking a knee be a legitimate sign of disrespect to government for the Christian?

Again, it’s a matter of perspective; it depends on the government. There is a ruler we are told to take a knee against with all legitimacy. In fact, if we don’t, we will lose. Satan is the prince of this world (John 12:31), and he has his own government: “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” (Ephesians 6:12). We are even given the weapons to defy the devil, including the knee-taking posture of “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Have you taken the knee for Jesus lately?

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