One Nation Under God

Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend…    (Philippians 2:9-10)

Have you seen the picture of the police of Miami kneeling before a crowd of protesters in an apology and a gesture of repentance? It is one of the most helpful and holy images I have seen in a long time.  The police are not fighting, threatening, brandishing their weapons, or resorting to tear gas.  No, they are kneeling and the crowd was quieted, moved, and then they were inspired to embrace the police.

What is it going to take to quiet our cities?  What is it going to take to stop the looting and burning?  It may just take a national day of kneeling together.  It may just take an apology from one race to another.  This note of apology must come from our collective hearts, and it must lead to significant change.  An apology without real change is cheap and it will only further accentuate the pain and mistrust.

I once had a man say to me that strong men don’t apologize.  He had done something that was tremendously hurtful to his wife and he was refusing to say, “I am sorry.”

After he declared his defensive response to his wife’s dire need for an apology, he asked me if I agreed.  I then asked him if he really wanted to know.  He said, “Yes.”  I said, “A man who can’t say sorry isn’t a strong man, he is a sorry man, a weak man, an arrogant man, and a man who will give more pain than joy to others.” I can’t end this remembrance on this note, for after walking away angry, this man did, in time, come back to thank me for my honesty.  He eventually did apologize to his wife, and he saved not only his marriage, but also his soul.

As I have looked again and again at the picture of those police officers kneeling before the angry crowd, I was given a vision of hope that I believe could help us.  That vision stems from today’s scripture.

If all those who claimed Jesus—no matter what color they are, no matter how they vote, no matter the things that so often and so sadly divide us—knelt together, side by side, heart to heart, just think of the grace that would be poured out upon our land.

I invite you to pray with me that we would be strong enough, faithful enough, humble enough to kneel together before the One who gave His life to reconcile us to God.  If we accept His gift of reconciliation, we must also accept His expectation to be “ambassadors of reconciliation” in this world between all of God’s children.

If we are going to claim that “we are one nation under God,” then there is hard and holy work ahead of us.  With God’s help, and with a contrite and courageous spirit, we can, I believe, live into a brighter and more just future—a future without racism and injustice, and a future which truly extends liberty, protection, and freedom for all.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Is it hard or easy for you to say “sorry?”
  1. What do you make of this vision of all of us kneeling before Jesus together?
  1. How might Jesus be calling you to be an “ambassador of reconciliation?”


One thought on “One Nation Under God

  1. Mike Armstrong

    Great post Jim,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, When I see a tragedy like this, I see a pattern in the aftermath and that is how peoples , politics and historical bias show up. When I saw the reaction of the Episcopal bishop in DC, I wonder, was she triggered by her bias? As a current seminarian, I see heavy bias even in scripture readings and exegetical works in my studies

    So, if our alleged religious leaders won’t own their bias and political leanings, why do we expect others to own theirs? The lack of emotional intelligence is the real “sin”.

    I see all these young kids fresh off college campuses(where in large part they are heavily influenced by a very liberal faculty) and their reactions are quite predictable.

    Conversely, I see older people who are 20-40 years removed from this experience who want security and order and immediately revert to “what about the 60 people shot in Chicago this past weekend?

    Then, add in race baiters and those who make money off this tragedy and it is sadly, a predictable and angry situation on “both sides”.

    We have seen this so often yet vs own our selfish bias(based largely on how we make money, our sexual orientation, family of origin wounds, etc) and empathize and forgive………we turn on the tv channels that accentuate our bias and/or, solely listen to a Dem or Repub pitch via our biased filters

    We want peace and inclusion yet even in our own churches, liberal churches and their alleged leaders won’t work with conservative ones and todays seminaries are either liberal or conservative and aspiring priests/pastors in large part, go to these seminaries(like our cable tv choices) to augment their own bias,.

    The communal sin is group think, augmented by the emotional security and acceptance we all seek in others similar beliefs.

    Its a metaphorical stoning of the sinner sans looking at the logs in our own eyes

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