With the onslaught of football season (which is viewed almost like holy days in the SEC nation), much controversial talk has recently resurfaced in the media regarding the kneeling protests of the NFL. Needless to say, this fresh wave of commotion was begun with Nike’s recent campaign, which features the face of the kneeling protests, Colin Kaepernick, with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This photo has since been replicated to feature everything from serious military heroes to humorous sitcom characters such as Dwight Schrute from The Office. While this blog is in no way condoning the action of the NFL players whatsoever, I believe there are some underlying truths we need to evaluate in this situation.
First of all, this concept of “taking a knee” has been highly praised by many media sources as an attempt to protest systematic racial oppression. Yet, years ago, “taking a knee” was highly frowned upon by the same American media when football player Tim Tebow rocked “3:16” under his eyes and took a knee to pray during games. I believe that regardless of one’s views on either of these situations, we need to start asking ourselves why we are more concerned about the knees being taken in a football game than the knees that we are taking in prayer daily. Nevertheless, regardless of any indecision concerning what to bow to on earth, we can be assured that one day, “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” (Philippians 2:10-11).
Furthermore, let’s revisit Nike’s slogan and scrape it off the pavement where it has been run over by the media since its introduction: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
While, perhaps ironically, perpetuated by an athletic company, this Nike slogan is also reminiscent of the race Paul speaks of which exemplifies the Christian walk: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Yet again, the Book of Hebrews serves to further encourage us in this faith race: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Finally, regardless of the novelty of this marketing campaign, the idea of believing in something at the cost of everything was not initiated by Nike. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Jim Eliot, who gave his life to reach the Huaorani people of Ecuador, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” So what are you waiting for to give your all to Christ? Just do it.