This week, the big story is Colin Kaepernick, who remained seated during the national anthem in protest over disproportionate police mistreatment of black and brown men and women in America. Most of the coverage I've read on either side is talking about the legitimacy of his protest. Does the flag and anthem actually represent what he's talking about? Doesn't the national anthem have a lesser-known third verse that celebrates the destruction of black lives? Does Kaepernick disrespect veterans by sitting? These are all important questions to discuss. But I'd rather talk about the blazing furnace he was thrown into because of his seated position.
Kaepernick has been the subject of a lot of backlash, including hateful and racist twitter comments and the burning of his jersey by Niners fans.
There's another story of folks "taking a stand" during a time of national fervor. In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar sets up an image and requires all of his office bearers to bow to the image when the music plays (That doesn't sound familiar, does it?). Now, there are Jews in the kingdom who were stolen from their land generations earlier, and some of whom have even risen through the ranks to become provincial officials (That doesn't sound familiar, does it?). They refuse to bow, and are threatened to be thrown into a blazing furnace for doing so. And still they refuse to bow.
You can bet when a furnace is involved the ultimate issue is worship. Who do you serve? The blazing cultural furnace Kaepernick has been thrown into makes me wonder if the furor is less about respect and more about worship. And if this national ritual is too sacrosanct to to even sit out in the name of freedom, it makes me wonder what else are we being asked to bow to, stand for, or salute in our time and place with a burning cultural furnace as our underlying (even subconscious) motivation. Are their images, songs, processes, ways of speaking or spending to which we have been bowing down that actually oppose the will and the love of God? Will we have the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to stand...or sit?