Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation…”
A lot has changed in just 4 years. Around this time in 2016, Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem at a Packers-49ers game, claiming he was protesting America’s racism and police “oppression of black people and people of color.” His kneeling quickly drew national controversy.
As the NBA 2020 season reopened last week, every player, joined by coaches and game officials, kneeled during the national anthem, wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts. But in the NBA game between the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets, all eyes were on 22-year old forward Johnathan Isaac for the Magic, who was the only one who stood during the national anthem, without wearing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. His actions, which are directly opposite those of Kaepernick 4 years earlier, sparked controversy.
In just four years, we as a nation now view standing for our national anthem as controversial.
In the post-game interview, he was asked to face the news media and explain why he chose not only to stand alone during the national anthem but also to not wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. The first question for him was “Do you believe Black Lives Matter?” He answered “Absolutely.”
He explained his position on racism in America today: “I’m not for racism. I’m black. I grew up black. I have a black little brother that lives in America. I’m not for racism. I don’t think that me not kneeling for the flag before the game and wearing a t-shirt should mean that at all.” He then explained where anyone can go to truly discover how black lives matter – the biblical explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“For me Black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel,” he said.
What is Johnathan saying? In a culture that has lost its former grasp of biblical doctrine, claiming the true source of a person’s value can be found in the Gospel goes undetected by most Americans.
But Johnathan wasn’t though. He gave a very clear explanation of where each person’s true identity can be found: in their heart – their character: “We all have things that we do wrong and sometimes it gets to a place that we’re pointing fingers at who’s wrong is worst. Or who’s wrong is seen, so I feel like the Bible tells us that we all fall short of God’s glory. That will help bring us closer together and get past skin color. And get past anything that’s on the surface and doesn’t really get into the hearts or men and women.”
In our verse for this week, the apostle Paul begins his epistle to the church in Rome by explaining why he, like Johnathan Isaac, is not ashamed of the Gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and then the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Paul says it is Jesus Christ’s Gospel, and it is where we see God’s power at work. Through Christ’s Gospel eternal life is made available to everyone, regardless of ethnicity (“Jew or Greek”, and in today’s language, “black or white, red, yellow or brown”), if they trust their lives in Christ and His finished work on the Cross.
The word “Gospel” means “Good News”. Johnathan’s decision to stand during the anthem allowed him to explain why, as our verse says, he is “not ashamed of the gospel”. He wants all to know that the key to why all lives matter is found in Jesus Christ and what He achieved for us. The question is: what is this Gospel?
Johnathan explained the first part of the good news, which is actually bad news, when he claimed all of us fall short of God’s glory (His desire to shine in and through us) because “we all have things that we do wrong” and “we focus on surface issues, like skin color” and “we point fingers at each other over whose wrong is worst.” He is quoting Paul from Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.”
Then Johnathan added the second part of the gospel – the solution to our sin problem. To come closer together as people we must first ignore surface issues like skin color, which only fuel racism, and instead come to terms with who we really are, which is below the surface – our hearts. The good news is that Jesus Christ takes it upon Himself to transform our sinful hearts, by willingly paying for our sins on the Cross. Now we can not only be reunited with God but with one another through our faith in Jesus Christ.
This is Jesus’s promise in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is Johnathan Isaac’s message.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #410